Winter can be long and cold in The Netherlands so when spring comes there is cause for celebration. Put this together with the importance of flower and bulb cultivation in the country’s history and it’s no surprise that the way the Dutch celebrate spring is with a massive parade of flowers.
Bloemencorso Bollenstreek is held on April 20-22 in the part of Holland known as the Bulb Region. This is predominantly the area from Leiden to Haarlem in southern North Holland which includes the famous flower garden of Keukenhof, and including the coastal town of Noordwijk. Spring, April in particular, is the time when all the bulbs flower and world-famous expos of Dutch bulbs attract visitors from around the world.
On Saturday April 21st, the huge annual Flower Parade will leave Noordwijk at 9:30am and travel 25 miles (40 km) to the town of Haarlem arriving at around 9:00pm. The parade is made up of around 20 flower decorated floats, 30 decorated luxury cars, plus marching bands. The parade route passes the famous bulb-garden of Keukenhof. The evening before the parade, the floats will be on display in Noordwijk and the day after the parade they will be on display in Haarlem. Building the floats and decorating the cars is an important part of the whole festival and takes months in the lead up to the festival.
Many towns in the region have their own Bloemencorso during the year, some late in the year in August and September, but the Bloemencorso Bollenstreek is the largest and attracts hundreds of thousands of onlookers along its route as it passes through the towns of Voorhout, Sassenheim, Lisse, Hillegom, Bennebroek and Heemstede on its way to Haarlem. Haarlem itself is easily reached by a short train ride from Amsterdam and it’s well worth making the trip to see Holland celebrate its floral tradition.