On the first Friday of April, I visited Keukenhof together with my two kids and mother in law. All the Dutch schools were in session and we were lucky enough to have the day off, so it was not overly busy like is can be. The sun shone for us all day, the crocuses, hyacinths and daffodils were in bloom and the tulips were beginning to open, it was the perfect day for it!
We were a little hesitant to go so early in the season, as we had heard that many of the flowers were not out yet, but we decided to take our chances anyway and we don’t regret it. Although we could see that many flowers hadn’t opened yet, and I know the park can be a lot more colourful, there was still loads of colour throughout the park. The indoor exhibitions made our visit even better; they were fabulous! There was a tulip exhibition in the main Willem-Aleksander pavilion, which was literally a colour explosion! The kids really enjoyed reading all of the different and interesting tulip names, choosing their favourites and smelling them. The indoor orchid and gerbera exhibitions were also impressive and a must see!
The history of Keukenhof dates back to the 15th century. Countess Jacqueline of Bavaria (1401-1436) used to gather fruit and vegetables here for the kitchen of the Keukenhof Castle, which was built in 1641. Over time, the estate grew to over 200 hectares, now known as the Keukenhof gardens. The castle is not accessible from within the gardens (you will need to travel via the outside around to the other side of the park to view the castle) and is not always open to the public.
The same landscape architects who designed Amsterdam’s Vondelpark, redesigned the castle gardens in 1857. That original royal garden, in the English landscape style, can still be visited inside Keukenhof. In 1949 a group of 20 leading flower bulb growers and exporters came up with the plan to use the estate to exhibit spring-flowering bulbs. The Spring gardens of Keukenhof opened its gates to the public for the first time in 1950 and was an instant success from then onwards.
Each year, the gardens are planted inline with a new theme. In 2018 the theme is Romance, so you will see that both the indoor exhibitions and the flower gardens are all designed around this theme: hearts, weddings, love etc. With each year being a different theme, you can visit over and over again, and there will always be something new to see.
Our day was perfect, right up until the moment we decided to leave. It took us about 30-45 minutes to get out of the parking lot (many cars all being funneled out through just one exit). But aside from this, is was a wonderful day and I look forward to returning again next year. Keukenhof is open until mid-May, so don’t miss it.
Tip: Pre-purchase your tickets online via the official Keukenhof website to avoid the long lines at the entrance.