2023 Tulip Tours Photo Review
Early Season - Hyacinths
The big secret of Dutch tulip season is hyacinths! Hyacinth fields are just as spectacular as tulip fields, are very plentiful and bloom a couple of weeks earlier. This means if you visit in early April you can still see spectacular flower fields when it’s a tad too early for peak tulips.
Directly below is a gigantic field of hyacinths we visited in the early part of the season. We visited on our first small group tours, beginning April 8. The angles of the photos are not identical, but ten days separate the first and second photos below. What a difference! The photo on March 29 was taken on a scouting trip to see how the various fields were coming along. They are also not the same fields from year to year – the crops are rotated – and this means that, aside from the main tulip farm we visit, that there’s a little bit of a treasure hunt each year before tourism season begins to make sure we find the hyacinth fields (but in fairness, they’re quite large and hard to miss!).
First Tour, April 5: Photos by Lauren King
The Dutch flower season began for us with our first private tour on April 5. Maggie, Lauren, and Libby joined us for a combination of our two main tours – the off-the-beaten-track tour and the Keukenhof one. As it turns out Lauren is a fantastic photographer. The picture above in the header is hers as well as the gallery below. (All copyright on the header image and the eight directly belong to Lauren!).
Also, Lauren’s photos give a nice sense of all the other things we see on the off-the-beaten-track tour besides tulips. Check out Lauren’s portfolio here.
The Dutch flower season began for us with our first private tour on April 5. Maggie, Lauren, and Libby joined us for a combination of our two main tours – the off-the-beaten-track tour and the Keukenhof one. As it turns out Lauren is a fantastic photographer. The picture above in the header is hers as well as the gallery below.
Lauren King Photos From April 5
On this tour, we got to see both Betsie’s tulips farm in the Beemster polder, and a trip to the Keukenhof / Lisse area where we saw some beautiful fields of hyacinths (and one early field of tulips!). Rachel, who was doing her first season as a tulips guide, joined us an auxiliary tour guide.
Betsite explains about the tulips industry
Since 2015 we’ve been visiting Betsie’s farm, which is very firmly our favourite tulips farm in the entire Netherlands. We accept that we’re a bit biased and there are likely other tulip farms that are comparably fantastic. Betsie’s farm lies about 35km north of Amsterdam, in the the Beemster region. One reason we love it is that it’s not in the Keukenhof region, and has a quiet and untouristy feel.
This season was quite a late bloom for tulips. However, she has six varieties and there was a nice spread amongst them.
Betsie and husband, Loek, son Niek and his wife Cristal, with President Obama. President Obama booked us for a private tulips tour and we brought him to Betsie’s farm on May 1. You can read about our presidential tour here.
Betsie's 6 Variety of Tulips
Betsie has six variety of tulips and they don’t all bloom at the same time. From our point of view this is great, as it means we get a wider window of time to show visitors blooming tulips.
This year two varieties bloomed before the other four. In the middle picture above you’ll see one of those varieties – the Tom Pouces (named after a Dutch pastry!). The other variety was the Purple Princes. These were in bloom bu April 15 (ish) and we were cut on May 3.
The other four varietes actually bloomed in late April and made it till May 12. While in previous years we have found tulip fields this late it the season to show guests, this is the latest that Betsie’s have been in bloom. This year was a very late year all round.
The video on right was taken two weeks after the one on the left. It’s the same field of tulips, but for the one from May 5 to the right of frame you see a strip of green: This is where the tulips from the other would used be (before they were cut).
And in the video from April 22, you’ll see a big green gap to the left of the blooming tulips. This is where the tulips from the May 5 would soon bloom. But we were yet too early.
The Konijns In Action
aka portrait of a family of tulip farmers!
Stuck in the mud
Touring is largely a very fun business. In a sense it’s like show-business – once a tour is underway it’s a little bit like a theatre show. And you need everything to run smoothly. It always does -except when it doesn’t!
This year Rachel joined us for her first tulips season. In early April it had rained a bit, so the tulips farmers told us we shouldn’t drive the minivan into the field – there was a long stretch of grass before you reach the tulips.
On Rachel’s first group tour ever for us, one of her guests told her that for medical reasons she wouldn’t be able to walk back to the van from the tulips. Rachel was faced with a quandary: risk driving the van in the we field, or risk asking a guest to walk 10 minutes when she said she couldn’t.
Now, not everyone can be relied on to be honest about what physical hardships they can bear. In hindsight, the lady was being a bit high-maintenance, but hard to make the call in the moment. Rachel made the fateful call to collect her in the van, and yes, she got stuck in the mud.
What ensued was a little adventure for the tour group. Niek (Betsie’s son) came in his trusty tractor and towed her out.
The case of the missing apple pie...
That was great fodder for me. But about a week later, I forgot to bring our homemade apple pie with me on the tour. To be clear: I don’t make the apple pie, but we found a wonderful cafe that does. It’s quite a hit on our off-the-beaten-track tours! I recently moved to a lovely city near to Amsterdam, called Hoorn.
I confessed everything to the group at the start o the tour, and begged their apology. I also offered them the opportunity to take a detour to Hoorn to pick up the pie. Hoorn is a beautiful little city, and they enthusiastically agreed. The picuture below is of them (and me!) posing by a statue in the centre of Hoorn. It was a fun detour!
Tulip & Flower Fields Near Keukenhof
We don’t only go to Betsie’s tulips field in the Beemster polder. We also visit Keukenhof, and the flower fields near it. Not just tulip fields, but hyacinths too. This is in the early part of the season when tulips are not in full bloom yet. They are just as spectacular as tulip fields. Below is a selection of photos from some of these fields.