Spring is such a fabulous time of year! After a cold winter, nature wakes up and gives us beautiful landscapes full of flowers, the tulip in particular, and delicious seasonal delicacies. Temperatures are mild, so you’ll be able to ditch that huge coat and five thermal layers. If you are lucky, you might even be able to venture out without a scarf. O the joys of spring!
But how can you best celebrate this season in the Netherlands? Well, you can start by ticking the following off your to-do list.
1. Visit the Keukenhof or Bollenstreek
The Keukenhof, famous for its millions of spring-blooming flowers, opens on March 21. This is a tourist hotspot if ever there were one, with hundreds of thousands of visitors taking in the beauty of the “kitchen garden” each year. If you haven’t been already, you really should go. This year’s theme is flower power, so expect bright colours!
But what if you don’t want to fork out 17 euros for a ticket? Well, you could just visit the Bollenstreek a.k.a. the Bulb Region instead. Lisse, where the Keukenhof is situated, is also part of this region. But if you just want to see the tulip fields, you don’t need to buy an entrance ticket - just head on over to the area between Haarlem and Leiden, where the main bulb growing is done on the sandy soil behind the dunes.
2. Pack a picnic and go on an adventure
Make a delicious spread with all the goodies, pack it up and then get ready for an adventure. There are plenty of nature reserves and forests to enjoy in the Netherlands, so why not go offline and start your wander into the woods? Don’t bother with Google Maps; just take a look at the signposts to decide which direction you want to go in.
There’s something really refreshing about walking through nature and not relying on technology to get you to the right place. Once you have found the perfect spot, set up your picnic. (It’s advisable to have a blanket with you to sit on, as the grass might be quite dewy.) Bon appetit! Bask in the warm rays of the sun and enjoy your surroundings.
3. Go boating
As soon as the temperature warms up, Dutch people pile into boats to enjoy a day on the water, whether this is canals or rivers. Why not do like the Dutch and rent a boat with a group of friends? For smaller boats, less than 15 metres in length and slower than 20km/hour, you don’t even need a skipper or boating license, you can sail them yourself.
Remember to pack some extra dry clothes and plenty of snacks. Your friends are sure to appreciate the snacks (as will your tummy!) and the dry clothes may come in handy - you never know. You don’t have to go boating in your own city either. Why not travel to the Venice of the Netherlands, Giethoorn? This village has only one footpath/ bike path and no roads, so you can only get around by boat - how charming!
4. Lounge in the sun on a terrace
As soon as the sun shines, even if it is not that warm, you’ll see Dutchies flocking to terraces around the city to catch some rays and chill out with a glass of beer or wine in hand. There are plenty of terraces dotted all around Dutch cities and towns, but if it is nice weather don’t be surprised if many are already full. You have to venture a bit further afield to find a seat.
5. Eat some white gold
No, don’t try to eat actually gold - you’ll break your teeth! We’re talking about eating the white gold that is asparagus, of course. You might already be familiar with the green variety of asparagus but have you ever tried white ones? They are the same plant but get their white colour due to being grown underground. Green asparagus, on the other hand, grows above ground and develops chlorophyll, which gives it its green colour.
The white gold asparagus, so prized in the Netherlands, has a sweeter, more delicate flavour, and a hint of bitterness compared to its grassier green brother. Asparagus season is relatively short, so when it comes around it is very much celebrated as the star ingredient in a copious number of dishes. Traditionally, asparagus is harvested from the second Thursday in April until June 24.
The main growing region for asparagus is Limburg, and, as with the tulip region, you can cycle along the asparagus route and see this delicious vegetable being cultivated and harvested. The route, which starts in Arcen, is rather long at 47km, so be prepared to make a whole day of it and wear clothes that don't rub - there is nothing worse on a long bike ride than chafing!
How do you celebrate Dutch springtime?
So, what do you think? Will you be trying some of these ways to celebrate the Dutch springtime? And how do you usually celebrate? Let us know in the comments below.