Spring into Holland this year

Spring in Holland essentially means two things: tulips and herring.

Spring into Holland

Through April and May the world’s most famous bulb producer goes Technicolour, with miles of fields striped with tulips and daffodils of every colour and variety imaginable. Whether you drive, cycle or sail along narrow canals through the "Bollenstreek" (the bulb region located to the west of Amsterdam), its vibrant stripes are the essence of the joy of spring for even the most reluctant horticulturalist.

drive to keukenhof

For a concentrated dose of tulip mania, visit the celebrated Keukenhof park this month. 

Located just 30 minutes’ drive from central Amsterdam in the heart of the Bollenstreek, Keukenhof literally means the “kitchen garden” yet this is no humble vegetable patch… 


Encompassing some 80 acres of landscaped gardens, Keukenhof is the world's largest flower garden, with a remarkable 7 million bulbs planted here annually. Multi-coloured banks of flowers flow down to sun speckled ponds, dazzling rows of azaleas flank shady rivers, a windmill turns slowly above swathes of daffodils, tulips and fragrant hyacinths, and visitors enjoy fresh syrup waffles and pancakes under ancient wisterias.

Haringhuisen in Holland
Herring stalls

Half an hour’s drive south of Keukenhof, through the bulb fields and dunes, lies the spiritual home of Holland’s other springtime love: herring. 


Dotted around every Dutch town you’ll find “Haringhuisen” (herring stalls) serving cured herring with chopped onions and gherkins or the more substantial “broodje haring” (herring sandwich). However, legend has it that the “Hollandse nieuwe haring” (Dutch new herring) is the most delicious of all, caught during the early weeks of herring season (May or June).


The start of the herring season is celebrated jubilantly in the seaside town of Scheveningen on Vlaggetjesdag (Little Flags Day), taking place on June 14 this year. 


Hundreds of boats sail out of the flag-bestrewn harbour to fish for the young herring - the first boat to return with a catch is greeted rapturously by the crowds and its first barrel of herring auctioned off for charity. While the fishermen are at sea, visitors are kept entertained with boat displays, countless stalls selling food, crafts and trinkets, live music and sand castle building tournaments.