Located in Lisse within the Netherlands’ South Holland province, Keukenhof is one of the largest flower gardens in the world, measuring 79 acres, and is popularly known by the nickname “the Garden of Europe.”
In the 15th century, the land that now encompasses the gardens of Keukenhof was used for hunting and for growing herbs which were used for cooking in the caste of Jacqueline, the Countess of Hainaut. The garden’s modern-day name is derived from this use, as the Dutch term keukenhof roughly means “kitchen garden.” Following the countess’s death, the grounds were purchased by merchants. In 1641, governor Adrien Maartensz Block lived on the grounds and constructed a large country home that is now known as Castle Keukenhof. In the 19th century, extensive grounds work was completed by landscape architect Jan David Zocher and his son Louis Paul Zocher. In 1949, the garden was purchased by the city of Lisse and was opened to the public as a flower exhibit attraction, with the intent to display the wide range of flowers grown in the Netherlands and throughout Europe, as the Netherlands is the world’s largest exporter of flowers.
Attractions and Gardens
Today, Keukenhof is located within the Netherlands’ South Holland province near the city of Haarlem, just southwest of Amsterdam. It is located within the province’s Duin- en Bollenstreek, or “Dune and Bulb Region,” which is easily accessible via train station in Haarlem, Leiden, and Schiphol. Over seven million flower bulbs are planted annually in the garden, which is open from mid-March through mid-May every spring. More than one million visitors tour the garden’s grounds, including many international visitors traveling to the area for the event.
The garden serves as the international showcase for the Dutch floricultural industry, presenting the cultivated bulbs of more than 100 participating flower companies. More than 20 flower shows are presented throughout the garden by more than 500 flower growers, with flowers transported to the garden the previous autumn for each year’s spring show. Multiple gardens and garden styles are showcased throughout Keukenhof, including an English landscape garden designed in 1830 that is home to a maze of winding paths with see-through points. An historical garden is also showcased, featuring older types of bulbs, and a nature water garden blends perennials, shrubs, and bulbous plants. A nontraditional Japanese garden is also highlighted. Though no tulips are showcased at the garden itself, a number of tulip fields can be found near Keukenhof, though access may be restricted as many of the fields are privately owned.
Keukenhof’s operating season is designed to mirror the natural flowering season of its bulbs, with flowers such as daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses blooming early at the park and other blooms flourishing during the garden’s later operational weeks. A variety of flower shows are offered daily throughout the season at the park’s pavilions. Tickets are available annually starting in autumn from the garden’s website, with tickets available at the park’s box office during the garden’s operating season. Combination tickets are available for garden entrance and roundtrip train or bus tickets to and from the region from several locations, and park guides may be ordered in advance and picked up at the park the day of admission. Daily guided boat trips through the park’s waterways are offered for an additional ticket fee, exploring the park’s bulb fields via electrically-powered boats.
A number of food outlets are offered within the park, including Italian, Asian, American, and traditional Dutch food stations. Visitors may also bring their own food and beverages into the park’s picnic meadow area. Charging stations for electric cars and bikes are offered at the park, along with bicycle parking facilities and luggage storage services. Though bikes may be rented to explore the surrounding region from a number of nearby vendors, Keukenhof is a pedestrian-only park due to the delicate nature of its flower displays. Dogs are permitted within the park on leashes, with the exception of restaurants and pavilions. Camper vans may be parked within the park’s carpark, though overnight camper van stay is not permitted.
Ongoing Programs and Events
Every year in April, the annual Bloemencorso Flower Parade travels through the park along a 42-kilometer route between Noordwijk and Haarlem, attracting several hundred thousand visitors and showcasing more than 20 flower-decorated floats. Though the annual flower festival is only open to the public for eight weeks during the spring, the grounds of the Castle Keukenhof are open year-round and are used for a variety of festivals, including Castlefest, Ladies Winternight, and an annual Christmas Fair. Classical music performances are also showcased at the castle throughout the year.
Stationsweg 166A, 2161 AM Lisse, Netherlands, Phone: +31-2-52-46-55-55