Pella Tulip Time Festival best things to do in Iowa

One of the best tulip festivals in the United States is Tulip Time in historic Pella, Iowa. Known as America’s Dutch Treasure, Pella became home to 800 immigrants from The Netherlands beginning in 1847. Today, you can experience the Dutch culture throughout the year. However, one of the highlights is Pella’s annual Tulip Time Festival scheduled this year May 2-4, 2024. This heritage event features authentic Dutch food and bakeries, parades, city tours, museums, crafts, a quilt market, one of North America’s tallest working windmills, entertainment, and of course, tulips. And most of these events are free!

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Top Things to Do at Pella Tulip Time Festival

Pella Iowa Tulip Time flower festival gardens Dutch costumes

Here are the top things to do at Pella Tulip Time Festival

  1. Stroll through the hundreds of thousands of tulips (250+ tulip beds) in Central Park, Sunken Gardens, Fair Haven, Central College, Scholte Gardens, and more.
  2. Visit Pella’s famous Dutch bakeries and try authentic Dutch pasties such as Dutch letters and pofferties.
  3. Sample other authentic Dutch food such as Pella bologna and brats at the food booths and trucks.
  4. Watch the Tulip Toren grandstand shows – Dutch dancing, costume style show, concerts, and more.
  5. Tour the five-story Vermeer Windmill – one of North America’s tallest windmills.
  6. Explore the Pella Historical Village – including the childhood home of Wyatt Earp (self-guided audio tour), an 18th century Dutch-style row house.
  7. Take a city tour on the open-air tractor-pulled wagon.
  8. Bring or rent a chair to watch the afternoon or evening lighted parades.
  9. Try on some oversized Dutch shoes at the info booth and in front of the Vermeer Windmill.
  10. Check out the Dutch Craft Market featuring more than 100 booths.

Pella Tulip Time Frequently Asked Questions

Pella Iowa Tulip Time flower festival information booth Dutch costumes

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Pella Tulip Time festival

When is the Pella Tulip Time festival? Where is the Pella Tulip Time festival?

Pella Iowa Tulip Time flower festival gardens

Pella Tulip Time Festival where you can be Dutch for the day takes place in downtown Pella, Iowa May 2-4, 2024. Special events begin at 8:30 a.m. and run until after the evening parade, which starts at 8:30 p.m. Pella is a small community and with all the signage, you will not miss it! Pictured is my sister-in-law, Mam, at last year’s Tulip Time festival in Pella, Iowa.

Where do I  park for the Pella Tulip Time Festival? Is parking free at Pella Tulip Time Festival?

Pella Iowa Tulip Time flower festival parking

While street parking is available first-come, first-served, it is limited. Many of the streets in downtown Pella are closed to allow visitors to walk safely through the Tulip Time festivities.

We parked at one of the designated pay parking lots and rode a shuttle to the festival. Highly recommend. And then you return on a shuttle that run fairly regularly. Cost is $10 per vehicle (and includes the roundtrip shuttle). Please note that they only accept cash.

You’ll see lots of signage for the shuttle parking or you can view a parking map online.

Where do I buy tickets for the Pella Tulip Time Festival? Is the Pella Tulip Time Festival free?

Pella Iowa Tulip Time flower festival gardens

Most of the events at Pella Tulip Time Festival are free. So no tickets necessary. However, you may purchase advance tickets online for grandstand seating, the Scholte House Museum, Pella Historical Village (including tours of the Vermeer Windmill and Wyatt Earp home), City Wagon Tour.

How many tulips are in bloom at the Pella Tulip Time festival?

Pella Iowa Tulip Time flower festival gardens

The Pella Tulip Time festival features 300,000 tulips. You’ll be tiptoeing through tulips throughout downtown Pella, Iowa. The City of Pella maintains more than 250 flower beds. They also plant 120,000 tulip bulbs every fall with 75 varieties.

Can I purchase tulip bulbs at Pella Tulip Time festival?

Pella Iowa Tulip Time flower festival gardens

Yes. You may purchase a variety of tulips at the Tulip Bulb Sales and Flower Show in Pella, Iowa. Pictured: Nightmare variety of tulips turn purple and then black. This rare tulip from Holland is the darkest of them all and only a few hundred were shipped over to North America last season.

What time is the Pella Tulip Time parade?

Pella Iowa Tulip Time flower festival parade float

You can watch two different parades at the Pella Tulip Time festival daily May 2, 3, and 4. The afternoon parade takes place at 2:45 p.m. while the evening lighted parade is scheduled from 8:30 p.m.

This brings back special memories for me as I grew up southeast of Pella. Our high school marching band participated in the Pella Tulip Time parade every year. I still remember our Zip-a-dee-doo-dah routine 40+ years later.

What historical places can I tour during Pella Tulip Time?

Pella Iowa Tulip Time flower festival historical village Vermeer Windmill Dutch Shoes

The Pella Historical Village features the boyhood home of Wyatt Earp, a wooden shoe shop, Dutch antiques, a replica of founder Dominie Scholte’s first church, and a refurbished working bakery. Additionally, you can tour all five stories of the historical Vermeer Windmill – one of the tallest working windmill in North America.

Other historical museums in Pella include:

  • Scholte House Museum (lots of tulips on the grounds here)
  • Tuttle Cabin
  • Fire House Museum
  • Pella Rolscreen Depot Museum
  • Vermeer Corporation Museum
  • Veteran’s Museum
  • Klokkenspel – a 147-bell carillon with mechanical figures

Pella Iowa Tulip Time flower festival gardens historical village

Is the Pella Tulip Time festival kid-friendly?

Pella Iowa Tulip Time flower festival Dutch shoes

Yes. The Pella Tulip Time festival is perfect for kids (of all ages) and families. Try on some oversized Dutch shoes or take a city tour in an open-air wagon.

Pella Iowa Tulip Time flower festival gardens city tour

Are dogs allowed at Pella Tulip Time?

Dogs are allowed in the outdoor activities at Pella Tulip Time. However, there are crowds and most businesses do not allow dogs inside buildings with the exception of service dogs.

Is the Pella Tulip Time festival adult-friendly? Does Pella Tulip Time have a beer tent or beer garden?

Pella Iowa Tulip Time flower festival beer garden

Yes. Pella Tulip Time offers an adults-only beer garden where you can sample several craft beers.

Is food available at the Pella Tulip Time festival? What Dutch food should I try at the Pella Tulip Time festival?

Pella Iowa Tulip Time flower festival Dutch bakery

Yes. You will not go hungry at the Pella Tulip Time festival. Many food trucks line the streets during Pella Tulip Time. Restaurants and food booths are also available throughout downtown Pella. I also recommend getting in line early for two of my favorite Dutch bakeries: Jaarsma Bakery and Vander Ploeg Bakery.

And you must try Dutch Letter pastries (pictured) and Pella bologna on a stick. So good!

What’s the history of Pella Tulip Time? When was the first Tulip Time in Pella, Iowa?

Pella Iowa Tulip Time flower festival historical village

The first Pella Tulip Time was held in 1935 – without tulips. The event was postponed during a few years during WWII. However, Tulip Time festivities started back up in 1947. You can learn more on the Pella Tulip Time website.

Where can I get a map of downtown Pella and Tulip Time brochure?

Pella Iowa Tulip Time flower festival map

You can download a map of downtown Pella or pick up a Tulip Time map and brochure on your shuttle bus stop.

Are there restrooms available at the Pella Tulip Time festival?

Yes. You can find portable restrooms near the food booth area in the Dutch Market and on East 1st Street and Broadway Streed. Additionally, public restrooms are available at the Pella historical museums, near the gift shop, the Pella Public Library and the Pella Police Station.

Can I see the tulips outside of the Tulip Time festival?

Pella Iowa Tulip Time flower festival Scholte Gardens

Yes. If you want to avoid the crowds or aren’t able to visit during the actual Pella Tulip Time festival, you can enjoy beautiful tulips any time they are in bloom in Pella, Iowa. They predict tulips will bloom in late April to early May. If you miss peak tulip time, the City of Pella replaces the 250+ flower beds with beautiful annual flowers and plants.

I hope you get the opportunity to visit Tulip Time in 2024. This is one of the top things to do in Iowa this spring. And is one of the best tulip festivals in North America

Pin it for Later – Guide to Pella Tulip Time – best things to do in Iowa

Please pin this guide to Pella Tulip Time – one of the best and free things to do in Iowa.

Best things to do in Iowa for free - Pella Tulip Time Festival - features more than 300k+ tulips, parades, authentic Dutch food, historical village, and more

Best things to do in Iowa for free - Pella Tulip Time Festival - features more than 300k+ tulips, parades, authentic Dutch food, historical village, and more

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Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller

26 comments

  1. There are so many great spots to enjoy the spring bloom season. Good to know that Pella, Iowa is a great option if we want to see one of the best tulip festivals in the U.S. We would certainly not miss a tour of the Vermeer Windmill. Or get a good seat for the parade. A fun spring thing to do!

  2. Absolutely love this! I have wanted to visit the tulip fields in Holland for ages but had no idea we could visit this fabulous display in Iowa. Stunningly beautiful – and fun! I want to stand in those clogs!

  3. Springtime gives us such stunning flowers. I have tulips on my table all spring. The tulip time festival in Pella Iowa looks amazing.

  4. I love tulip season! This looks like a wonderful spring activity for everyone in the family. There’s so many events that go on!

  5. I had no idea there were so many tulips in Iowa! I love chasing Spring blooms, so I will need to add the Pella Tulip Festival to my list.

  6. When I think about tulips, Holland always comes to mind. Now, I know, I don’t have to travel halfway around the world for tulip season!

  7. I would have NEVER known that Iowa had such a large tulip blossom! I thought you could only find things like this in Europe!

  8. Beautiful! I love visiting flower festivals like Pella Tulip Time. They are the best for taking great pictures!

  9. I love Tulips and always assumed I’d have to go to the Netherlands for a festival. Excited that this option is much closer!

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