April Showers Bring May Flowers


April showers bring May flowers! Spring has been a bit late this year in our region, so lift your spirits and celebrate the season by visiting one of the major flower festivals that traditionally take place in May.

Tulips are a lovely and welcome sign of spring, especially in Holland, Michigan, which celebrates its Dutch heritage at the annual Tulip Time Festival. This special event features parades, dinner shows, live music and comedy, fireworks, a midway and – of course – millions of beautiful tulips. You can participate in the Tulip Time run, attend a floral arrangement seminar or a class in Dutch cooking. An authentic Dutch Marketplace features the food, dances, costumes and crafts of 19th century Holland.

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival runs through May 19th at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Floria. Topiaries are a major feature of this festival, and this year some new topiaries are attracting attention – including Mike and Sully of Monsters Inc., Phineas and Ferb and other popular Disney characters . The Flower Power concert series is in full swing at the America Gardens Theater,. Catch the 8:00 p.m. show; then wander through the themed gardens and topiaries which are illuminated at night.

Raindrops may be dropping in some areas, but Iowa tulips in Pella, Iowa, were hit by snow earlier this week. According to Pella Tulip Time officials: “The tulips are coated with snow and are still looking gorgeous. Fortunately tulips do not mind cold weather , and the moisture and cooler temperatures will make them last longer.”

Pella’s tulip festival highlights the town’s Historic Village and Vermeer Mill, along with the lovely results of the 380,000 tulip bulbs planted. You can see “Sound of Music” at the Pella Opera House and take your family to the puppet theater.

If you’re looking for an international getaway, you tiptoe through the tulips in Holland! Fly into Amsterdam, and see the spectacular fields of tulips from the air in bright bands of color.

On land, visit the Keukenhof Gardens not far from Amsterdam. We were there last May, and it is one of the prettiest sights I’ve seen! Seven million bulbs are planted annually in this park. Countless flower beds feature a huge variety of tulip colors. A colleague in our office just returned from Holland. She and her daughter took a bike ride around the Gardens.

Keukenhof means “kitchen garden.” The area originally served to provide herbs for the area castle.

A tour departing from North Dakota in April, 2014, will include an Amsterdam tour and the Keukenhof Gardens. The trip begins with a Rhine River Cruise. This tour will also include a visit to the Roosevelt Center in Middleburg. Also on the itinerary is a tour of the manor house and church from the ancestral area of US Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. Contact your travel professional for details.

Speaking of Holland, you may have heard that Holland has a new King, for the first time since 1890. The transition took place April 30th, which has traditionally been known as Queen’s Day. Last year I was there for Queen’s Day, when everyone wears orange and has a fabulous and joyful citywide party.

The celebration will now be moved to April 27th, the new King’s birthday. Orange is the color of the Dutch royal family, known as the house of Orange. You can be sure the city was flooded with orange flowers as well as everything else orange!

For another flower based international celebration, go to Japan where the Hiroshima Flower Festival is held in early May. Find a variety of flowers at Peace Boulevard and view a Flower Parade with floats decorated with pansies, marigolds, and daisies. Music and other entertainment takes place on more than 20 stages. Food stalls provide local cuisine and international specialties.

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