New Jersey is famous for many things. But tulips isn’t one of them. But the Holland Ridge Farms Tulip Festival is changing all that. Where a trip to the Netherlands to stroll through tulip fields crowded with other tulip fans may not be an option for some of us, a drive to the Garden State is a possibility. Here’s why you’ll want to head to central New Jersey for this beautiful and fun festival!
A Brief History of Holland Ridge Farms
Last spring was the inaugural Holland Ridge Farms tulip festival. But the fact that the family would start such a festival makes sense: tulips are in their blood. The farm is run by fourth-generation Dutch tulip growers. For that first tulip festival in spring of 2018, they transformed an abandoned dairy farm into more than 50 acres of tulip fields!
What to Expect at the Tulip Festival
Holland Ridge Farms call themselves the largest tulip festival on the East Coast and it’s tough to argue with them. While tulip festivals are an annual event in the Netherlands, they seem to only just be gaining traction outside of the European country.
The tulip fields at Holland Ridge Farms are simply beautiful. Rows of rather traditional looking tulips of red, yellow, and white petals extend for what seems like forever. And mixed in between the rows are less common varieties. There are delicate pale pinks and yellows with soft petals, bright yellow-orange tulips bigger than your hand that resemble marigolds on steroids, and fringe-edged fire red tulips. Occasionally, you even catch a bee buzzing around the rows and you can only imagine his delight. The planning and curation of the rows by the farm are well done.
And while flower fans with a special love for tulips (like myself) are the audience, they’re only part of the target demographic. Holland Ridge Farms are savvy and seem keenly aware that the real focus is on anyone with a camera: families with children in special outfits picked out just for the occasion, bloggers (guilty!) and influencers, photographers (pro and hobbyist). With smartphone cameras and DSLRs in hand, they adventure up and down the long rows of tulips in search of the perfect shot. There have even been artists setting up to capture this natural beauty. And who can blame them?
The farm cleverly plays into the photo appeal. There’s a giant wooden shoe that kids can climb inside. There are two bicycles stuck into the ground for a photo opp. You can convince your friends and family on social media that you’re cycling through the tulip covered countryside near Amsterdam. It’s silly but it’s infectiously fun.
What’s great is that the field is so large that even when there are a lot of other people there, you can find a quiet spot to enjoy.
More Than Just Tulips
There are other fun things to do at the tulip festival. Naturally, you can take some blooms home with you thanks to the U Pick tulips for a very reasonable dollar a stem. There are free hop on, hop off style hayrides to help you get around the field if you want as well as horse-drawn carriage rides for a fee. There’s a small Dutch-themed gift shop selling things like wooden shoes and wooden tulips. Unfortunately, there are no tulip bulbs for sale. And, because it’s a farm, after all, there are some animals grazing off to the side. The farm’s old buildings have been repurposed, too, into modest “museums” with old equipment.
If you’re looking to take a break during the tulip festival there are also a few food trucks selling ice cream treats, BBQ, and more.
Holland Ridge Farms Tulip Festival is the kind of event that can lure you back year after year. Like the Philadelphia Flower Show, you’ll spend all winter dreaming of those beautiful blooms. But unlike the Flower Show, the tulip festival wows with a certain simplicity. Mother Nature does all the work. (Although I’m sure the folks at the farm, who each year remove every bulb and plant millions new for the next year, might politely disagree.)
If you don’t want to wait for next year, you’re in luck. Later this summer Holland Ridge Farms will be hosting a sunflower festival!
Tips for Attending the Tulip Festival
- The start and end dates of the tulip fest are set by the tulips and when they decide to emerge. Keep an eye on the farm’s website and social media for opening and closing information.
- Tickets are required to attend. You can save a little by buying online and in advance.
Getting There & Parking
Holland Ridge Farms is located in the quiet and somewhat rural Cream Ridge, New Jersey, just off I-195 and not far from I-95. It sits just east of Trenton and is a 20 or 30-minute drive from Princeton. At just over an hour from New York City and Philadelphia, the farm is an easy day trip.
Driving is your best bet for reaching Holland Ridge Farms. There is parking available on site (in a field) for free. In fact, you know you’re in the right location as you approach as you can see the colorful fields from quite far away.
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All opinions, as well as all photos, are my own.