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Flowers in full bloom ahead of Holland tulip festival, despite early arrival

 Water droplets on a red tulip, during the Holland Tulip Festival
Tulips in vibrant colors are in full bloom in Holland. (Dennis Caskey, iStock)
  • Tulips are in full bloom in Holland as the city prepares for its  annual tulip festival 
  • Warmer temperatures during the winter and spring can make it difficult to predict when they will bloom 
  • The flowers have been in full bloom for nearly two weeks but organizers are hopeful they will last throughout the festival

May 6: 'Most tulips have gone' after weekend rain, wind hit Holland festival

Thousands of people are expected to flock to Holland this weekend and throughout next week for the annual Tulip Time festival, which features immersive events, a carnival and the highlight of the festival, tulips — more than 6 million of them. 

Record-high temperatures in the winter and spring caused the flowers to reach full bloom two weeks ahead of schedule this year, but that’s not worrying Gwen Auwerda, executive director for Tulip Time.


“This year the weather has been on and off, hot and cold as we know and we are in full bloom right now,” Auwerda said. “Many of the tulips have been blooming for two weeks and we believe they will last through the festival.” 


The event starts Saturday and runs through Mother’s Day, May 12.

Tulips typically start to bloom when temperatures hit 50 degrees. Usually that starts around March 1 but warmer days in January and February gave the tulips a head start. 

Tulips need a certain number of hours above 50 degrees before they begin to bloom. 

“When you have warmer temperatures, those hours accumulate faster, because we're accumulating not just time above 50, but the actual number of degrees above 50,” said Brent Crain, a consumer horticulture educator at Michigan State University Extension. 

If Michigan continues to experience warm winters, residents can “bank on '' tulips blooming earlier and earlier, Crain said. 

For now Crain said, applying a layer of mulch to the ground where tulips are planted can help regulate the temperature to prevent tulips from blooming earlier than desired. 


“They always bloom in the first of May and sometimes they bloom two weeks early and sometimes they last until the first of June. It's just very dependent on on the weather pattern,” Auwerda said. 

“We knew they begin to bloom early but they do that every year,” she said. “So I don't say that we’re more concerned this year than we are any other given year.”

Visitors can walk around and see the tulips for free in public parks and along the streets downtown, but some festival events are ticketed. Tickets can be purchased online.  

You can also watch the tulips at Centennial Park online, through the live Tulip Tracker.

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