What does one of the greatest painters of the 19th century have to do with flowers?
Everything,..if you are headed to Keukenhof.
This year, the biggest spring garden in the world is themed on Vincent Van Gogh, the famous post-impressionist dutch painter who lived and died in the 1800s. There is a flower bulb mosaic in his honor as well as shows displaying wonderful combinations of thousands of tulips and his paintings.
We’ve come to Keukenhof on the second day of it opening and the weather is not co-operating. It drizzles most of the time with a cold gale of wind whipping about mercilessly; a reminder that though spring is around the corner, instead of doing a dash, it’s hobbling in uncertain steps and stops, with the sun peeking out from the thick grey clouds in a fetching game of ‘hide-and-seek’. Most of the tulips across the fields are simply sprouting.
The cleaning lady at the toilets is cheerful, breaking into smiles and similes.
“You shouldn’t have come now,” she sagely states, “It’s not so beautiful, the bulbs are just coming out of the ground like they were placed in yesterday. You should come in April!”
I nod in agreement, as she volunteers where she is from and I where I am from, but we are here and might as well enjoy the day.
What is Keukenhof?
Keukenhof means ‘kitchen garden’, and first opened its gates to the public in 1950. Located in Lisse, a village just a short distance from Schipol Airport, it is the annual international showcase for the Dutch floricultural sector. The emphasis is on tulips and over 100 participating flower companies display their living catalogue of various types of flora, numbering up to seven million spring-flowering bulbs.
How do you get there?
The easiest and cheapest way is to get to Schipol Airport and take the Keukenhof Express bus.
When is the best time to visit?
Keukenhof is open for eight weeks from 20th March to the 17th of May. The most ideal time to visit would be mid-April when the flowers are in full bloom.
If you are on the look-out for special events, I would suggest the following dates:
28/03/2015 – 29/03/2015
Weekend of the marching bands
03/04/2015 – 06/04/2015
Dutch Heritage Weekend
11/04/2015 – 12/04/2015
17/04/2015 – 19/04/2015
Keukenhof Flower Market
Kingsday at Keukenhof
29/04/2015 – 03/05/2015
Keukenhof Art Square
02/05/2015 – 03/05/2015
09/05/2015 – 10/05/2015
Romance at Keukenhof
14/05/2015 – 17/05/2015
Shanty choirs festival
How much does it cost?
It really depends on whether you’d like to go on a tour or on your own; while going by tour is better in that you don’t miss anything, you are bound by time and it is pricier. If you set out on your own, you can stroll in the park at your leisure. Keep in mind that Keukenhof is open from 08.00 – 19.30 hrs. The ticket office is open from 08.00 – 18.00 hrs.
Can I come with kids?
By all means, let the kids tag along. There is a playground for them when you need to take a break. As well, there are an abundance of eating places.
Is it easy to navigate?
Yes it is! There are maps and signs everywhere. I like the signs which are scripted after the names of the Dutch Royal family and The House of Orange-Nassau.
You can buy your tickets here.