Tulip Time Is Almost Upon Us
Providing water levels are favourable, many river cruises can be taken almost all year round. But some itineraries are rather more seasonal. Just like Christmas market itineraries, our Dutch and Belgian waterways cruises, which take in the beautiful colours of the tulip fields, have their own window of opportunity during which they should be enjoyed. And it just so happens that tulip time is almost upon us, so book now for an experience you won’t forget.
The environment in the Netherlands is perfect for tulips and this is reflected in the bumper crops of vibrant coloured bulbs that can be seen there every year. The cool springs provide the perfect temperature for these delicate flowers, which are not, in fact, native to this part of the world at all. They are actually indigenous to the mountainous regions of Asia as well as some parts of the Mediterranean but have flourished since being introduced to the Netherlands in the 16th century. The well-drained and sandy soil found in the fields adjacent to the Dutch waterways also creates excellent planting conditions.
Timing is key is you are going to see these blooms at their most spectacular, though. Too early and you may be greeted by a field of leafy stems and closed bulbs, whilst delaying your trip too long may see the warmer weather cause the tulips to droop. Generally, the optimal time to see them in all their glory is mid-April, but anytime between late March and the end of May could still offer a tantalising tulip-filled trip. It all depends on the weather. However, green fingered cruisers will be consoled by the fact that if they arrive too early for tulips there will still be some beautiful blooms on display in the form of narcissi, crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths.
Perhaps the best place to see the rows and rows of yellow, red, orange, purple and pink (and a highlight of our tulip time river cruises) is the Keukenhof Gardens. Located in the small town of Lisse, about 20 miles south of Amsterdam, these man-made gardens showcase the blooms in all their resplendence. The annual tulip festival features around 800 different varieties of the flower and over 7 million individual bulbs.
This year, to mark the fact that is has been 125 years since his death, the theme will be dedicated to Vincent Van Gogh. A giant portrait of his face will be created with the use of thousands of tulips and visitors will have nine different gardens to explore. Amongst these will be a new addition, inspired by the self-portraits of the Dutch Master himself, known as the Selfie Garden. Anyone planning to visit Keukenhof can send in their own selfie to be featured in the garden and everyone will be encouraged to join in with the photo craze whilst they are there.
Tulips may feature in some of the activities you will take part in on the Tulip Time river cruise but there will also be plenty more highlights along the way. You will start and finish your trip in the captivating city of Amsterdam, and so a look around the various museums and a walk along the cobbled streets should not be missed.
Another activity to look forward to is a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinderdijk. Here you will find one of the other things that the Low Countries are famous for; windmills. The ones here date all the way back to the 18th century and will provide a welcoming guard of honour as they line the river banks. There will also be an opportunity to discover the Belgian city of Bruges which is famous for its well-preserved medieval architecture.