Tulip Time in Belgium
Updated: Mar 20
Do you love tulips, hyacinths and daffodils? Don’t miss Floralia in Brussels, which can be a visit during a springtime river cruise in The Netherlands and Belgium. What better way to welcome the season of renewal than with a visit to this annual flower show at the Grand Bigard Castle, just 10 minutes from Brussels and the country’s nearest approximation of The Netherlands’ Keukenhof? Here’s what you can expect.
The springtime Floralia exhibition takes place every April on 34.5 acres of park space at the Grand Bigard (Groot-Bijgaarden) castle. Whatever spring bulb variety you can imagine, it’s likely here - the castle gardeners have painstakingly planted more than one million bulbs by hand!
As you may expect in this area of Europe, special attention is paid to the nearly 400 varieties of tulips, with hyacinths and daffodils well represented in the displays as well. Flower bulb expert Maarten Bakker spends all year looking for the perfect bulbs to showcase in each year’s event. The flowers are arranged in distinctive flower beds, sometimes as figures (there’s been a flower peacock in the past!) or even as a labyrinth.
Don’t miss, too, the world-famous rhododendrons from Exbury Gardens in England, created by the Rothschild family.
A Gorgeous Greenhouse
Head inside the castle greenhouse to see new flower arrangements that change weekly during the show. In the past years, renowned flower artists such as Hans Danko have been invited to create eye-catching arrangements with as many as 10,000 flowers.
A Captivating Castle
You may be tempted to explore the beautiful castle that is at the center of Floralia, but there is limited public access. (If you’re fortunate enough to be attending an event there, you may go inside.) The castle itself is an admirable blend of Medieval and Flemish Renaissance styles, even when viewed from the outside.
Cruise on to More Flowers!
During your river cruise, you have more festive floral fun ahead. Sail through busy Rotterdam harbor before visiting the breathtaking Keukenhof, known colloquially as the “Garden of Europe.” With nearly 7 million flower bulls on 70 acres of parkland and lakes, it’s one of the world’s largest flower gardens. Throughout your cruise, you’ll see countless ribbons of farmland carpeted in colorful tulips.
Beyond the mesmerizing floral displays, your Dutch & Belgian River cruise provides an opportunity to step back in time during a Bruges walking tour, visit the summer retreat of the Dutch royal family at Arnhem, take a canal cruise in Amsterdam, and view Holland’s iconic windmills at Kinderdijk. One of the prettiest springtime river cruise experiences Europe has to offer, this flower-filled vacation will long be remembered.
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