This is What National Tulip Day in Amsterdam Looked Like This Year

Once a year, the iconic Dam Square in central Amsterdam transforms into a temporary picking garden filled with around 200 000 colourful tulips. National Tulip Day in Amsterdam takes place annually on the third Saturday in January; a fairly recent tradition that was started in 2012. Everyone can come and pick a few flowers to celebrate the start of the tulip season. Well, I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t resist.

A young woman poses with a bunch of tulips on National Tulip Day in Amsterdam (2020)

Celebrating the Start of the Tulip Season in the Netherlands

The tulip is a major symbol for the Dutch capital (and the country at large). Every year, around 10 000 tulip lovers will drop by to pick up a few flowers. With those numbers, you can imagine the line gets pretty intense. But there are more than enough tulips for everyone. And I’ll tell you a little trick: if you head over to the fences on the other side, there will be some friendly tulip pickers that might hand you a one or two tulips when you ask nicely.

A girl with a yellow beanie picks a tulip from the temporary garden on Dam Square

Even though I’ve lived in Amsterdam for over 6 years, almost 7 now, I only found out about this massive tulip party yesterday. I was about to head into town anyway when I saw a photo of Dam Square on my Instagram feed. It was covered in tulips. I thought it was just a cool edit at first and didn’t immediately connect the dots. But then I saw another photo and realised it was actually taking place that day. After some googling, I found out that National Tulip Day had started at 13:00 (1 pm). As it was already 13:30 by then, I quickly took the metro and made my way to Dam Square. I’m glad I did!

Dam Square on National Tulip Day in Amsterdam
Two girls hold big bunches of colourful tulips on Dam Square during National Tulip Day

What You Need to Know about National Tulip Day in Amsterdam

How about you? Am I the only one who didn’t have a clue or had you also never heard about the event? The crowds were definitely worth it. People were walking around with tulips all around town, sometimes filling up their bicycle bags with dozens of flowers. As you can see, I brought my camera and people were generally all smiles. It was cool to see how an event like this can lift our moods.

In case you’re planning on going next year, I’ll summarize a few things you need to know about National Tulip Day:

  • National Tulip Day takes place every third Saturday in January.
  • The event always takes place on Dam Square in Amsterdam and usually starts around 13:00.
  • You can head to the square an hour earlier to beat the line, but you’ll be waiting anyway. There will be enough tulips for everyone until late afternoon.
  • Waiting in line usually takes around 30 minutes, but can go up to 50 minutes.
  • If you don’t have time to wait and don’t mind taking home only a couple of tulips (instead of as many as you could possibly want), make your way to the front of the fences. Politely ask somebody inside if they would be willing to hand you a few tulips. It worked for me!
A mother carrying tulips looks at a smartphone her son is holding
A couple happily pick tulips on Dam Square during National Tulip Day
National Tulip Day on Dam Square in 2020

National Tulip Day in Video

I also decided to capture this unique Dutch event in video format. Have a look at my short video below and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram, Twitter or TikTok if you’re interested in more inspiring content about the Netherlands and beyond.

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