Every third Saturday of January the Netherlands celebrates National Tulip Day, the start of tulip season. The season lasts from January till April and it is the time of year when most varieties of this flower are available is shops both in the Netherlands and around the world. If you are in Amsterdam, make sure to come and celebrate, but first read up on this Dutch national icon.

National icon

The tulip is one of the symbols of the country, stereotypical even. If you don't see at least one on your visit to Amsterdam or other parts of the country, you haven't really been there. This all started in the 16th century when the flower, originally from the Ottoman Empire, was introduced in western Europe where it does not grow in the wild.

Their introduction to the country was quickly followed by Tulip mania, when they became a frenzied commodity. Later they were frequently depicted in Dutch Golden Age paintings, by artists such as Rembrandt, and soon the Netherlands became the biggest tulip producer in the world.

Not only does the Netherlands produce and sell the most tulips in the world. They also give away thousands of flowers for free every year. One of these moments is during National Tulip Day, more about that celebration later. Another moment when the country gives away thousands of flowers is Easter Sunday, when the Vatican is decorated with 30,000 flowers from the Netherlands.

And every spring, Canada's capital comes alive with colourful tulips. As every year, the Dutch Royal Family and the people of the Netherlands each send 10,000 flower bulbs in thanks for hosting the Royal Family during the second world war and for aiding in the liberation of the country.

National Tulip Day celebrations in Amsterdam

Let's celebrate tulips in Amsterdam

How do you celebrate National Tulip Day? Usually this is the best day to visit Amsterdam for tulips, as on this day a major square in the city is turned into a pop-up tulip picking garden. Where everyone can pick flowers for free. The event is organised by Dutch tulip growers and in the months that follow 1.7 billion of the flowers will brighten up homes around the world.

On 20 January 2024, the 11th edition of this celebration, Museumplein is turned into a massive tulip picking garden, surrounded by museums such as the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum and Moco Museum. At the tulip picking garden you will be responsible for your own belongings, the organisation will provide you with a free biologically degradable bag which fits a small bouquet of flowers, you can pick up to 20 tulips.

How to enjoy your flowers for longer

You'll want to enjoy your flowers for as long as possible, for their colour and scent are a hint of things to come when spring arrives. So here are some tips to take care of your flowers:

  • Often when buying flowers they are wrapped in paper or foil. Don't remove the foil the moment you put the flowers in the vase. Leave them wrapped for an hour or so while in the vase. This allows them to become saturated with water and helps them to stay up straight.
  • Choose a tall, clean vase: tulips will grow a few more centimetres in the vase.
  • Keep the flowers away from sunlight and fruit bowls.
  • Tulips are thirsty flowers, so refill the vase regularly.