One of the Netherlands’ most popular attractions also has the shortest shelf life. Keukenhof, a park about 45 minutes southwest of Amsterdam, opens its doors annually from late March to mid-May (this year, March 21 to May 19). During those eight weeks, more than a million visitors pour through the front gates to ogle some 7 million spring-flowering bulbs, mostly tulips. That means the attraction gets — and stays — quite crowded.
The historic 79-acre park was established in the 15th century as the kitchen garden for a nearby castle (“keuken” is the Dutch word for kitchen); elements of its current design date to 1857. The annual tulip show started 70 years ago as a way for bulb companies to exhibit their products. Now, millions of bulbs — some 1,600 varieties, including hyacinths, daffodils, irises and lilies, from 100 exhibitors — are planted by hand every fall.