What better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than getting out of the concrete jungle and up into the clean fresh air of the Dandenong Ranges for a day of festivities surrounded by fields of flowering tulips at the Tesselaar’s tulip farm in Silvan, just 40km from Melbourne’s CBD. It’s a fun filled event that appeals to everyone – young and old – attracting over 100,000 visitors last year. The Festival runs over 4 weeks during spring, September 8 – October 4.
The Tesselaar Tulip Festival began 63 years ago in a simple way. Farmer Cees Tesselaar with his wife, Johanna, had emigrated from Holland, to start a new life in Australia. They began a cut flower business selling tulips, daffodils and gladiolus from bulbs they had brought out from their home country, in the picturesque Dandenong Ranges. Passers-by would stop to admire their fields, they would wave and stop to chat then go about their business. Soon the passers-by became braver, jumping the fence to get a closer look at the tulips. Cees and Johanna could have built a taller fence, but instead they opened their gates and allowed people in to see the tulips, a very rare flower in Australia in the 1940s.
The festival has grown over the years, and since that time has entertained over a million visitors. Nowadays when you visit, as well as tulips there is much more to see. Cees and Johanna’s grandson, Paul now runs the show and is proud of his family tradition. The number of tulips planted grows every year and there are over 150 different varieties. Visitors can also enjoy market stalls, a sculpture show, historic gardens, a fairy garden, play traditional Dutch games and actually walk amongst the flowers in the fields, which is pretty special.
You can see, and even sit in the biggest Clog (Dutch wooden shoe) in the Southern Hemisphere. Clogs might seem like an unusual footwear choice, but if you are a Dutch farmer on wet ground, the wooden shoes kept your feet warm and dry. There is even a clog shop where you can try them on and get a pair to take home!
If you want more, there is live entertainment daily, with a fun program of events to amuse all ages. The festival kicks off with the Turkish Weekend - not many people know that the Tulip originated in Turkey, and they hosted the world’s first Tulip Festival over 400 years ago. The weekend is followed by Yarra Ranges Week, with a showcase of local treasures. The fun keeps on coming with the Dutch Weekend when the farm becomes a mini Holland, with a Dutch Barrel Organ, Clog Dancing displays, traditional music, costumes, windmills and more.
The Turkish Weekend is followed by Yarra Ranges Week, with its own showcase of local treasures. The fun keeps on coming with the Dutch Weekend when the farm becomes a mini Holland, with a Dutch Barrel Organ, Clog Dancing displays, traditional music, costumes, windmills and more.
Now we did say all ages, and once school holidays begin the fun continues to roll with two weeks of Children’s Days. Entry for children is free! Entertainers include Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, Hoot and Hootabelle, the MikMaks, Fairy Monica and so much more. What is amazing to see is the children walking amongst the tulips, some right at flower height which is an unforgettable experience.
There is also The Food Wine and Jazz Weekend, where you can eat, drink and be merry in the tulips followed by the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow with the Irish Weekend, which is the craic!
You only have four weeks to experience the joy of the Tesselaar Tulip Festival so start planning your trip now! No doubt it would also be of interest to some of your passengers so spread the word. Visit their website, www.tulipfestival.com.au for a full list of events. The festival runs September 8 to October 4.