Tulip time in the Netherlands

A large crowd gathered in Amsterdam’s Museumplein to celebrate National Tulip Day and to pick tulips for free.

The Dutch cut tulip season kicked off on National Tulip Day, Saturday, 21 January. This year marked the first time the event was held at its new flagship location, the capital’s Museumplein.

New home

The first brightly-hued tulip garden was put up in Dam Square in 2012, with nine editions annually taking place since. In 2021 and 2022, the Dutch threw an alternative spring party due to Covid-19 restrictions.

As announced by the city government last autumn, a policy change forced event organiser Tulpen Promotie Nederland (TPN) to look for an alternative location.

This has been found at the capital’s Museumplein, the city’s cultural hub, with three of the city’s most prominent museums situated here: the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and the Stedelijk Museum.

Tulipa ‘Dutch Pearl’ launch event

On 21 January 2023, TPN invited city residents, tourists, and passers-by to pick up their tulips for free from a purpose-built, Dutch-themed garden with more than 200,000 tulips.
The guest of honour was Dutch Olympic speed skater Irene Schouten, a tulip grower’s daughter, who launched the new ‘Dutch Pearl’ tulip by pouring champagne over a display of them in white and pink hues. The new tulip variety takes its name from Dutch Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer’s painting ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’.

‘National Tulip Day’ aims to promote and support tulips. The event also highlights the importance of The Netherlands being the world’s largest exporter of tulip bulbs and tulip cut flowers. In 2017, the country forced 2.4 billion tulips into bloom and exported approximately 2.3 billion tulip bulbs.

World-class event

National Tulip Day organiser Tulpen Promotie Nederland (TPN) is an alliance of 500 tulip forcers and breeders.

TPN President Arjan Smit – who grows 11 million cut tulips annually in Spierdijk, Netherlands, is delighted that TPN’s cutting garden has found a new home. “Museum Square is an amazing location. Over the past few months, we have talked to the city of Amsterdam, the museums, and neighbouring businesses. These talks resulted in a spirit of collaboration. We have hosted an incredible Spring event.”

Smit said National Tulip Day has evolved into a world-class event attracting visitors from all corners of the world. “News outlets from home and abroad covered the event, and tulips were trending on social media. We could not have wished for a better start to the tulip season since retailers in the Netherlands, Germany and the UK also got involved.”

Great masters

In the spring of 2023, the Rijksmuseum, the national museum of the Netherlands, will dedicate its first retrospective exhibition to the 17th-century master Johannes Vermeer, who was born in Delft. With loans from all over the world, this promises to be the largest Vermeer exhibition ever. The Rijksmuseum has four Vermeer masterpieces, including the world-famous Milkmaid and The Little Street. The exhibition runs from now until 4 June 2023.

This article was first published in the February 2023 FloraCulture International.

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