The Highlights of Keukenhof Tulip Gardens in 2023
See millions of tulips at Keukenhof Gardens this Spring
As Winter turns to Spring, swathes of brightly coloured daffodils start appearing in the vast flower fields across the Netherlands. This glorious golden carpet marks the start of flower season, and the vibrant tulip blooms quickly follow. At the end of March, Keukenhof flower gardens open their gates for another year, welcoming over a million visitors.
In this article, we explore the history of these incredible gardens. We will look at some of the highlights and places you can not miss. We also offer practical advice and tips for anyone wishing to visit the world-famous Keukenhof Gardens. Our knowledge is drawn from our experiences of organising high quality Private Tours, taking guests from Amsterdam to the gardens of Keukenhof.
The wonderful history of Keukenhof
Keukenhof Gardens are the largest and most famous flower gardens in the world. The gardens are located within the grounds of the Keukenhof estate, which dates back to the 15th century. Keukenhof means ‘kitchen garden’, as this was where the Countess of Bavaria grew the fruit and vegetables required for the kitchen of her castle.
2023 is the 74th edition of Keukenhof Gardens, and the flower gardens will be open for 53 days, from 23 March – 14 May, 8:00 am – 7:30 pm, at the height of the ‘tulip season’.
In 1949, 20 Dutch flower bulb producers came together and made a plan to boost sales by showcasing their bulbs and flowers, creating planted floral displays in the grounds of the castle. These flower gardens opened their gates to the public in 1950, and became an immediate success, with almost 240,000 visitors in the first year. In 2022, the gardens saw over 1.1 million guests through its gates during the 8 weeks it was open.
Millions of flower bulbs in Keukenhof
The gardens now cover an area of 32 hectares (79 acres). They showcase products from 100 participating companies. This is achieved through the hand-planting of 7 million bulbs. The planting starts at the beginning of the previous October and is completed by early December.
The gardens not only feature spectacular tulips, but also a fantastic collection of other flowers, including hyacinths, daffodils, roses, irises, and lilies in an overwhelming variety of shapes and colours.
9 wonders of Keukenhof Gardens
There are many amazing things to discover at Keukenhof gardens. Here are some of our favourites:
1. The Dutch windmill
This authentic Dutch windmill is known as the Tower mill. It was built in 1892 and gifted to Keukenhof Gardens in 1975 when it was moved to its current location. The sails of the mill turn and are 17.9m. You can enter the mill, and if you climb the steps to the balcony, you will be rewarded with a spectacular view of the Lisse tulip fields and Keukenhof Gardens.
2. The royal tulip pavillion
Located in the Willem-Alexander glasshouse, is the tulip pavilion. This is where you will find tulips of every variety and (almost) every colour you can imagine. No matter what the weather, or how the season has been, this pavilion showcases tulips from the very first day the garden opens. It’s also a great place to visit on rainy days too.
3. The Japanese garden
As you walk along the winding paths of this non-traditional Japanese garden you pass through colourful beds of flowers and ornamental trees. The garden features an ornate bridge and the air is filled with the calming sounds of a delightful water feature trickling from above.
4. The Keukenhof maze
This is a hedge maze made up of thick bushes and has many twists and turns. Once you reach the centre, there is a raised platform/lookout point that gives you a view of both the maze and the fields beyond the gardens. Let’s hope the Keukenhof Minotaur is asleep this year.
5. Walking on water
Situated on the large lake is a lily pad garden which includes a pathway of fake lily pads. These wooden ‘stepping stones’ sit just below the water’s surface, so it appears to anyone watching that you are ‘walking on water’.
6. View the flower fields around the Keukenhof Gardens
Several locations in the gardens allow you to see the flower fields surrounding Keukenhof. These fields not only contain tulips but also daffodils and hyacinths. Another way to view the flower fields is to take a whisper boat trip along the waterway that runs beside Keukenhof Gardens.
7. Statues in the gardens
The gardens are not only home to spectacular displays of flowers, but there are also a variety of statues and sculptures located around the grounds. These range from traditional busts and statues, to more abstract pieces of art.
8. Sunset/when the crowds have gone
People often ask when the best time to visit the gardens is. Whilst that is very much down to your schedule, we always recommend late afternoon/early evening. As the crowds start to leave, and the sun goes down, the garden becomes tranquil and is bathed in the magical glow of golden hour and sunset. It’s the perfect time to take photographs, as there are so few people and the light is filtered through the trees.
9. The flower parade
On the 22nd of April, the area around Keukenhof Gardens hosts the 76th edition of the Bloemencorso (Flower Parade) of the Dutch flower region. Whilst we do not recommend visiting the gardens on this date, as they will be super busy, the parade itself is an amazing event to watch.
Decorative floats made out of tulips travel from Noordwijk, through Lisse and end the day in Haarlem.
The parade can be enjoyed for free at any point along the route, and it passes Keukenhof boulevard around about 3:30 pm.
Handy Hints for Visiting Keukenhof Flower Gardens
Wear comfortable shoes
The gardens are large and cover many kilometres of walkways. To make the most out of your visit, we recommend that you wear comfortable walking shoes.
Be prepared for 4 seasons in one day
The Dutch climate can be unpredictable, but it is also this weather that creates a perfect environment for the tulips to grow. Springtime in the Netherlands can be dry and sunny, but it can also be cold and rainy. Our advice is to wear layers and make sure you have a good rain jacket and/or an umbrella.
Travelling to Keukenhof
The gardens are roughly a 40-minute drive from the centre of Amsterdam, and the nearest station is 8km away. If you don’t plan to drive to the gardens, we recommend that you take a tour, which takes care of the hassle of travelling to and from the gardens, so you can relax and enjoy the beautiful countryside that surrounds the area.
Would you like to see the gardens between March and May on our highly-rated Private Keukenhof Tour? Click here for more information
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