One of the best things about spring flourishes all over the world: flowers. We’re talking tons of tulips, crates of cherry blossoms, loads of lavender and other sweet-smelling, beautiful blossoms that showcase nature’s best when the weather starts to warm up.
Every region has a specialty, though some really sing with particular blooms. These five floral festivals feature some of the best buds around.
Tulip Festival Amsterdam
No one does tulips like the Dutch, and one of the globe’s most well-known flower festivals takes place across Amsterdam’s countryside. These buds aren’t just beautiful. The Dutch tulip fields have been around for more than 400 years, making the blooms a sweet-smelling tradition.
In 2019, the fields are expected to be at their brightest between March 20 and mid-May. While on your tulip adventure, head to Keukenhof gardens, which is only open for eight weeks during the flowering time.
Also plan your visit around the Dutch Flower Parade (April 13). The 72nd edition of this springtime procession starts in the seaside town of Noordwijk, continues through the flower fields near Lisse and into the historic city of Haarlem. With so much to do in the area at this time, it’s a good idea to download a free flower map, book a tulip tour and add on a stop at Amsterdam’s floating flower market, an institution since 1862.
For a stay as grand as the surrounding gardens, check into Four-Star Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam. Spanning six 17th-century mansions, the property sits canal-side. Take a break from tiptoeing through the tulips to relax at the Guerlain Spa and, later, sip an elegant cocktail at the hotel’s speakeasy-style bar, which resides in the vault of the former MeesPierson bank.
The festival started in the 1970s as a way to showcase pristine, old cars. But decades later, it’s a three-day fete of art shows, contests, a children’s parade, the Daffodil Festival Hat Pageant and, of course, tons of flowers.
Highlights include the antique car parade (a nod to the event’s origins), followed by a tailgate picnic and the annual daffodil flower show. From April 26 to 28, don your cheeriest outfit and get ready for a trip to welcome the warmer weather.
While in town, stay at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star White Elephant Village, a charming 20-room inn (25 additional residences offer extra privacy) surrounded by gorgeous gardens, or nearby sister property White Elephant, which sits on picturesque Nantucket Harbor. Just a quick five- and 10-minute walk from downtown, respectively, both properties provide easy access to the festival and excellent restaurants, such as chef Michael Getter’s Dune and chef Liam Mackey’s The Nautilus.
Tokyo’s Cherry Blossom Festivals
The beauty of a cherry tree blooming is such a magnificent thing, but it’s short-lived and not 100 percent predictable. That’s why each year scientists aim to pick the best time for the iconic cherry blossom festivals around Tokyo.
This year, the blooms have been forecast to spring to life in late March, placing peak season between March 30 and April 2.
To experience the best buds, visit one of the city’s top flower festivals, such as Ueno Cherry Blossom Festival in Ueno Park, Bokutei Cherry Blossom Festival in Sumida Park along the river or the Nakameguro Cherry Blossom Festival at the Nakameguro shopping arcade.
Rest right in the heart of it all by checking into Four-Star The Tokyo Station Hotel. If you need a break from fawning over the ubiquitous flowers, take a few moments to bask in the historic hotel’s view of the Imperial Palace and the property’s own magnificent interiors and regal cupola domes. And since accommodations are right in the train station, there’s convenient access to all the festivals.
Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show
One of the world’s most famous flower shows takes place in London, and it’s a regal affair — the queen is a patron of the Royal Horticultural Society and has been known to attend the annual extravaganza.
This year, the big draw is The RHS Back to Nature Garden, co-designed by the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. Other standouts during the festival (May 21 to 25) include the show gardens, the Great Pavilion full of growers and plant nurseries, the donkey sanctuary, an herb- and plant-based wellness section and plenty of dining options from white-tablecloth affairs to casual picnics.
Continue your royal retreat with a stay at Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane. Perched in the high-end Mayfair neighborhood, the recently renovated, art deco address makes the most of the British capital’s springtime ambiance with London Eye-, Big Ben- and Green Park-facing balconies in almost every room.
Lavender in the Village
While you may think of lavender growing in stunning French fields, it also blooms quite well in New Mexico — so well, in fact, that the state is home to dozens of festivals dedicated to the fragrant flower.
One great option is Lavender in the Village, a small gathering held on July 20 and 21 in the Village of Los Ranchos, just a few miles from Albuquerque and an hour drive from Santa Fe. Stop by to browse more than 100 lavender-centric vendors selling beauty products, food, wine and more.
While in town, be sure to visit Los Poblanos, a historic inn and organic farm that specializes in the purple bloom. The lavender grown here gets used in a line of small-batch oils and lotions that you can buy and also pops up in dishes at onsite restaurant Campo.
When you’re ready to rest your head, stay in downtown Albuquerque at the historic Hotel Andaluz or make the pleasant drive to Santa Fe for a restorative refuge at the beautiful, richly adorned Four-Star The Inn of Five Graces. Make sure to stay for an order huevos rancheros or a classic breakfast burrito before making your way back to the lavender fields the next morning.