Orange City Tulip Festival

Orange City Tulip Festival
Several cities in the United States that were founded by Dutch settlers host tulip festivals to celebrate their Dutch heritage. Such festival feature spectacular tulip displays and a variety of cultural events for attendees of all ages. One of the nation’s best known tulip festivals is the Orange City Tulip Festival held in Iowa.

Orange City was founded in 1870 by Dutch settlers from Pella, Iowa. Its name has nothing to do with oranges. Originally called Holland, the city was renamed after Willian of Orange, sovereign Prince of Orange who overthrew King James II of England and ascended the English throne.

The first tulip festival in Orange City was held in 1933. The first Tulip Show was sponsored by the Women’s Club, Lawn and Garden Club, and the Lion’s Club. The show was a success so it was decided to hold it annually. In 1935, about 50,000 tulip bulbs were imported from the Netherlands. The following year, the event was officially renamed the Tulip Festival.

What started as a one-day event has grown to become a three-day festival that welcomes visitors from all over Iowa and out of state. The Orange City Tulip Festival is usually celebrated on the third weekend of May. Each day is filled with Dutch folk dancing, parades, musical performances, and other events and activities. Of course, the main attraction at the festival is thousands of tulips in bloom. Orange City has a variety of early, mid- and late-blooming tulips to ensure that there are tulips in bloom during the event.

Some of the main highlights of the festival include the Volksparade, Craft Show, Marching Band Competition, Night Show, ArtBurst (a juried fine art fair), drum line performances, community worship service, dance performances, street scrubbing, car shows, Orange City Tulip Festival Road Race, art exhibitions, wooden shoe carving, fairground rides, puppet shows, and more.

The main event of the festival is the Volksparade held twice a day. It features beautifully decorated floats, marching bands, dancers, and hundreds of revelers in Dutch costumes. Another signature event is the Night Show. It is an amateur production of a popular Broadway musical featuring local artists.

The festivities are presided over by the Tulip Queen and her Court. The tradition of crowning the Queen dates back to 1937. The Queen is selected from five high school seniors during a pageant held each November. The rest of the contestants form the Queen’s Court.

Orange City Tulip Festival

Photo: IowaYoder




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