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Keukenhof 2020: The Flower Garden of Europe

Keukenhof – The world’s second largest flower garden

Keukenhof, the world’s second largest flower garden1, is open just eight weeks a year. Yet it remains one of the most popular tourist attractions outside Amsterdam, and one of the top excursions in the Netherlands.

Keukenhof Opening Days 2020

In 2020 Keukenhof opens on March 21, and closes in the evening of May 10.

The theme will be ‘A World of Colours’ — celebrating the fact that people from every country and culture meet at Keukenhof to enjoy the spectacular Dutch flowers.

In 2019, a total of 1.5 million people visited the park over the 8 weeks it was open.

This overwhelmingly beautiful garden, in a park-like setting, delights young and old.

Keukenhof flower garden

On one of our visits to the Keukenhof we heard a young boy exclaim, “Look ma! Fireworks made with flowers!”

Keukenhof Tickets and Transportation

The vast majority of visitors on an excursion from Amsterdam prefer to buy a combination Amsterdam-Keukenhof transport and skip-the-line ticket (Recommended!)

This bus leaves from behind the This is Holland attraction (next to the A’Dam Tower) — a short, free ferry ride across the River IJ at Central Station. (Tip: Come a bit early so you can enjoy what we think are Amsterdam’s best french fries at the Pont Neuf kiosk just a few steps from the ferry landing).

You can also opt to include excursions to nearby villages, including the windmills and open air museum at Zaanse Schans:

You can make your way to Keukenhof yourself using public transport. The so-called Keukenhof Express bus runs between the garden and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Amsterdam RAI, Hoofddorp, and Leiden.

If you’re staying in Amsterdam you could opt to take a train to Schiphol and transfer to the bus there. Or you could make your way to the Amsterdam RAI station (for instance with the fast Noord/Zuidlijn metro), and catch the Keukenhof Express there.

Bollenstreek: Bulb region — Flower fields

Tulip fields are concentrated in the Dutch countryside between Haarlem and Lisse. This area is known in Dutch as the bollenstreek (bulb region).

bulb fields Netherlands

Bulb fields in the Netherlands. Well, clearly by now they’re flower fields.

Some flower fields can also be seen in the north of the province of Noord Holland, and in the Oostpolder. But the crown jewel is the Keukenhof flower garden in Lisse, some 30 kilometers (20 miles) southeast of Amsterdam.

By the way, it’s not just tulips you find at Keukenhof, but also daffodils, crocuses, narcissuses, hyacinths, and more spring flowers — 7 million flowers, from 800 varieties!

The garden is bordered on one site by flower fields. There are various vantage points, including a windmill, from which to take photographs.

Best time to visit Keukenhof

The garden is open from mid-March through mid-May. However, the best time to view the tulips in their full glory is from about mid-April through the first week of May.

Much depends on the weather. If sunny and warm spring-like weather starts early enough in March — as if often does — flowers are in bloom earlier than when it has been colder.

Though the garden opens in March some people who visit that early in the season are somewhat disappointed with the outdoor displays.

Keep an eye on the weather in April and May.

Keukenhof

When visiting the garden keep in mind the park-like setting. Depending on the weather you’ll want to dress in layers. Photo by Cszmurlo2

Opening times are from 8:00 through 19:30 (8 AM through 7:30 PM). Note that the ticket office closes at 18:00 (6:00 PM). It is not as busy early in the morning as during the rest of the day, but generally the afternoon temperature will be higher and more pleasant.

The Keukenhof is also open during Easter Sunday and Monday (April 12-3, 2020), King’s Day (April 27, 2019), and Liberation Day (May 5, 2019).

Check the weather before you go, as you may have to dress in layers. There can be quite a spread in temperatures during the course of your visit.

That said, it is less busy before 10:30 and after 4 pm. It is also not as busy on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday than on the other days of the week.

How much time to spend at Keukenhof

You’ll want to take your time to take it all in. The garden is 32 hectares in size. Here’s an easy way to picture that: Most sports fields are one hectare in size.

Map of Keukenhof tulip garden

[Click image to view or download a larger map] Map of Keukenhof — 32 acres of tulips and other flowers

While not everyone wants to see every single flower, the fast majority of visitors spend about 4 hours in the park. Mind you: realize that the park includes 15 kilometers of footpaths. Even if you return to the park on another day (which many visitors do, if not the same year than the next), you can always take another route.

Keep in mind that the Keukenhof also includes various indoor flowers shows and exhibitions3, as well as a fine collection of art. There are activities and events, such as the 72st edition of popular Flower Parade (Bloemencorso) on April 13.

Keukenhof Statistics

In the 2019 season the park was open 60 days — a little over 8 weeks. During that time 1.5 million people visited the park.

Most came from the Netherlands (20%), followed by Germany, America, France, the UK and China. As in previous year, there an increasing number of children visited Keukenhof.

There were four days in which there were over 45,000 visitors. Keukenhof says they “were welcomed in a structured, smooth manner.” Gorgeous weather drew many visitors, not just to the garden but also to the surrounding flower fields.

At times, Keukenhof took to Twitter to let people know their parking lot was full:

Annual Flower Parade

The annual Bloemencorso (flower parade) — known as Bloemencorso Bollenstreek — is not the only flower pageant, but is one the oldest and largest in the world.

In 2019 the parade took place on Saturday, April 13.

What does Keukenhof mean?

Literally ‘kitchen garden’. In the 15th century was a source of herbs and vegetables for the kitchen of a nearby castle.

The land was part of the large estate of Castle Teylingen.

The castle’s hunting grounds were full of dunes and untamed bushes. In the 19th century the castle’s rich merchant owners invited landscape architects J.D. and L.P. Zocher — who later also designed Amsterdam’s beautiful Vondelpark — to redesign the garden in an English landscape style. The result still forms the basis for today’s Keukenhof.

In 1949 the then mayor of Lisse, together with a number of leading flower bulb growers and exporters organized an open air flower exhibition here. The idea was to promote the region’s flower export industry. The exhibition became an annually recurring event, which continues to this day.

keukenhof flower garden posters

Some early Keukenhof flower garden exhibition posters. Detail of a commemorative poster issued for the garden’s 60th anniversary (in 2009)

Get your Skip-The-Line Keukenhof Tickets here.

Notes:

  1. Largest garden is the Dubai Miracle Garden, but face it… Dubai cannot hold a candle to the Netherlands
  2. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
  3. There are over 20 of these shows, at which renowned floral designers present wonderful creations that include the best flowers contributed by some 600 flower growers.
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This post was last updated: Nov. 13, 2019