A guide to the Orange City Tulip Festival
I made my first ever trip to the Orange City Tulip Festival last spring in 2021. After spending two days in town for the festival, here are my suggestions for first-timers at the Orange City Tulip Festival.
When is the next Orange City Tulip Festival?
It’s scheduled for May 19, 20, and 21st of 2022. Visit their website for details and schedules: https://www.octulipfestival.com/
Why I recommend reserved seating
My first advice: arrive between 11:00 am to 11:30 am and head to Windmill Park. Find the windmill that serves as the tourism info booth and spend the $5 for the reserved seating. Here’s why…
- Reserved seating puts you right in the middle of all the action. In fact, the majority of the time, the performers will be facing the reserved seating section. During Straatfeest, it’s like they are performing just for you.
- Sitting in reserved seating, the announcer will become your personal guide to the festival. They will talk you through each new group, providing details on each costume and the history of the Dutch dances. Now you’ll know the full story behind each group and activity and you’ll have a full understanding of the Dutch traditions.
Yes, you can certainly seat anywhere all the parade route – but if you’re new to the Orange City Tulip Festival, I highly recommend getting the reserved seating so that you can clearly see and hear about each of the traditions. It will be the best $5 you’ve spent in a while. Of course, that is until you visit the bakery, then it will become the previous best $5 you’ve ever spent.
Now that you have your reserved tickets, it’s time to explore Windmill Park. Check out the tulips, replica windmills, and then try on their largest pair of wooden shoes.
At Windmill Park, there’s a stand set up where you can purchase Poffertjes. They’re like mini pancakes sprinkled with powdered sugar. If Poffertjes aren’t your thing, then pick from any of the other street vendors, as I would recommend getting your snacks and drinks before heading to your reserved seating.
Either on your way to your seats or while you are seated and waiting for the activities, you’ll likely see the Fietsen Zangers. They are a group of Dutch-dressed acapella singers who take to their bicycles to travel through the downtown area and stop to perform at random areas.
At 1 pm each afternoon, the activities start with the Straatfeest. It consists of two sections: Dutch dances and the Mode Show. The first segment is the Dutch dances where children of all ages will take to the streets adorning their wooden shoes and Dutch outfits. You’ll notice that the students are grouped by age, as many of them practice the dances during school time for the months leading up to the festival. The Mode Show is a display of traditional costumes led by couples and families.
After Straatfeest, the street inspectors check the streets. You’ll hear them as they interact with the crowd, “These streets are dirty and need to be cleaned.” I even heard one of the inspectors ask the crowd if the streets needed to be cleaned and he followed up, “Of course, they need to be cleaned. That’s what you came to see, right?” And within minutes, young boys were grabbing buckets of water to be splashed on the street, as well as on each other. Following right behind them are the sweepers.
Typically it’s around 2:15 pm when the official parade known as Volkparade starts. It runs twice a day, 2:15 pm and 6:00 pm. However, if it’s your first time to Orange City for the festival, I highly recommend coming in mid-day and taking in the Straatfeest and Street Scrubbing along with the Volksparade.
After the Volksparade, you’ll have time to explore Central Avenue, here are a few other attractions to take in:
Horse Drawn Trolley Tour
For just a few dollars, enjoy a twenty-minute horse-drawn trolley ride through the streets of Orange City.
At $2 per ride, this is a quick and enjoyable way to see the Orange City downtown.
If you take a walk along Central Avenue, be sure to visit the intersection of 1st St NW and Central Avenue. You’ll notice a windmill-shaped telephone booth. Push the doors open, and pick up the receiver and you’ll find that it’s a working telephone booth designed as a windmill!
Straatmarkt & De Klompenmaker
Many of the side streets have vendors with food and gifts. There are also games for kids. Within Straatmarkt, you’ll also find live demonstrations of making wooden shoes by De Klompenmaker.
Dutch Street Organ
In front of Stadscentrum on Central Avenue is where you’ll typically find the fully restored 1909 Dutch Street Organ. Be sure to behind the street organ to get a close look at how it operates.
A section of the street is also reserved for their street carnival with rides for various ages.