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Holland in Iowa ~ Pella Tulip Time Festival

It’s almost time for thel Pella Tulip Time Festival, coming up May 3-5, 2018.  We went several years ago with our homeschool group and had such a fabulous time. The scenery is fantastic and the events are a lot fun. I’m really looking forward to going back soon! Here’s a post I wrote after our first trip and I am rerunning it to convince you that you NEED to go to Pella Tulip Time this year!

pella tulip festival

Who knew Holland is only 2 hours away? I have found memories of Girl Scout trips to the Netherlands I took when I was in grade school. We always drove to Holland from Germany on an enormous tour bus. Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, the Anne Frank House, canals cruises in Amsterdam, and of course a visit to an old time village with a windmill, cheese, Delft pottery, and wooden shoes – these were the activities that filled our days. I was in grade school so I haven’t experienced Holland as an adult, but I have a lot of great memories of trips there.

Holland in Iowa ~ Pella Tulip Time Festival

We’ve been living in Iowa for 6 years now (NINE YEARS NOW!) and I’ve heard about the Pella Tulip Festival  – but we’ve never been before. I mean, how could it compare the real, live deal? I guess I can be kind of a snot sometimes… 😉 If it’s not as good as the real thing, why go? Sometimes I’m sad that I can’t provide my own children the experiences I had when I was little. Exploring Europe as a child is something I really treasure but isn’t exactly feasible right now.

But when our home school group organized a trip to Tulip Time in Pella, I jumped at the chance. And this past Thursday, our whole family loaded up and made the two hour trek to Pella to see what all the hub-bub was about. I’m so glad we went! It might not have been the real deal, but it was awesome and we all had a great time.

pella tulip festival

The Vermeer Mill was built in in 2002 by Dutch craftsmen.

The Vermeer Mill is a working flour mill and it was a lot of fun talking to the millers who were as interested to hear about how I grind my flour as I was to learn how they grind theirs!

pella tulip festival

Huge Klompen

The kids had a great time trying on the Klompen – or wooden clogs. We also watched craftsmen making them ~ an amazing sight! And these pictures of my kids three years ago make me smile. I have a fourth child who needs to try on these Klompen now too!

pella tulip festival

Wyatt Earp House

We toured the Wyatt Earp house – boyhood home of none other than Wyatt Earp. And later we met “him” on the street. I had no idea he lived in Iowa and Ben was thrilled to meet him and pose for a picture.

pella tulip festival

Dutch Volks Parade

But my favorite part of the day was the Dutch Volks Parade. It looked like most of the “Pella-cans” donned traditional Dutch dress and came out for the parade. It was so much fun to see such a very well orchestrated parade with all ages of people dressed in traditional Dutch clothing. I loved watching the kids especially. No expense was spared for this parade, let me tell you! We loved it.

I highly recommend Pella Tulip Days. The only sad thing was the lack of tulips. Our non-existent winter coupled with a very early spring meant tulips in March instead of May {2015 tulips are blooming now, in mid April}. I would have loved to see all of the tulips. Oh well ~ it gives us an excuse to go back next year! 🙂

Have you been to Pella Tulip Time? What are you waiting for?

Looking for more fun places to visit in Iowa? Here are a few places to consider:

Wild Cat Den

Figge Art Museum

I-80 Trucking Museum

American Gothic House Museum


  1. I live two hours away, too. I've not been there either. But, I think I may need to put it on my radar. I'd heard about the tulip issue. My friend's son lives there. She said the tulip bloom was gorgeous way too early. She wondered what they'd do. So, looks like they went on with the show. Good for them.
  2. I grew up in Pella, so for me to see this brings back SO many good memories!! Wearing my Dutch costume, scrubbing streets, playing under the Tulip Toren, the food....I miss it!!!!
  3. Fun post! I am of Dutch descent as is my husband. We lived in Michigan before Oregon which has a pretty large Dutch population. Unfortunately all my years living there I never went to Tulip Time in Holland, MI. Their tulips all bloomed in March this year! Here in Oregon the tulips are late due to a cold rainy winter and spring.
  4. What a great synopsis of the event! I have never been there but would love to take my family someday!
  5. I live a 10 minute bikeride from Keukenhof in the Netherlands. Our house is along a canal in the mid of the tulipfields. It is beautifull now. Saturday we had the "bloemencorso" a big parade with floats all covered with our springflowers. It is so interesting for me to read your blog. It makes me proud and I wish I could send you all a bunch of tulips:)
    • How lovely, Wendy! I would certainly take those tulips! :D A friend whose living in Istanbul says the sultan originally sent tulip bulbs to the Netherlands and that's how they came to be there?! I had no idea. She shared a gorgeous picture of all the tulips blooming in Istanbul right now. I can only imagine how pretty it is.

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