On April 9 2021 I was able to visit the gardens of the Keukenhof, when it reopened for a test event after nearly two years of closure. The Dutch government appointed some events, theme parks and theaters to open to a small number of people to test whether they could be opened safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. My sister was super quick to get us tickets for the first day the Keukenhof was open and we had an amazing day with no crowds. If you have the opportunity to visit the Keukenhof by means of a test event, you should absolutely go, because it is a true delight to get to enjoy the Keukenhof with this little people. In my blogpost I will explain what we had to do to visit the Keukenhof and I will show you an impression of our day amongst the beautiful tulips!
How to visit the Keukenhof as a test event & my opinion
The Keukenhof will open in 2021 as a special test event for which you buy tickets via the Dutch website. Per day 5000 tickets are available, so you must be quick with reserving your tickets. In a normal year the Keukenhof can get 50.000 visitors a day, so you can imagine it was a luxury of visiting the Keukenhof during a test day. If the test was successful they hope to get permission to open on a larger scale and with less restrictions.
After booking our tickets you had to undergo a COVID-19 test and if you test positive you are not allowed to visit the Keukenhof. You can book these free tests via this website. The test result is valid for 40 hours, so you must enter the Keukenhof within 40 hours of taking the test. When we took our tests there were plenty of time slots and we received our test results in 20 minutes. When you receive the results of the test you can enter a code in an app for your smartphone to show the event you are attending that you tested negative. I checked out the privacy statement of the app and besides showing your test results for 40 hours, this app does not share your location. In the case that you test positive for COVID your test results will be shared with the GGD (Municipal Health Services) and you will be asked to quarantaine. Until May the government will pay for these tests and after that the participating companies will be asked to pay for some costs. We did our tests at the Evoluon location in Eindhoven and I didn’t find it too painful. We did our test in a gigantic tent, which usually can be found as a beerhall on a fair, oh how times have changed…
We brought our ID to the Keukenhof to show that these test results were our own. I have to admit that the process was pretty smooth, but I do not find it a sustainable solution. Having to test in a different location than the event takes a lot of time and we were lucky to live close to a test location. On top of that, it seems overly costly to arrange these tests for everyone visiting an outdoor event in which you can easily keep your distance. I can imagine the added value for a music festival, but for the Keukenhof this is incredibly over the top. It is also very difficult for the Keukenhof to earn a profit when they have to pay for the tests and are only allowed a small number of visitors. I hope the test results will be positive and that we can slowly diminish the number of measures taken to visit events safely. However, tickets for next week are being released shortly, so make sure to buy your tickets!
On our test day we were able to park right in front of the Keukenhof entrance and we only had a queue of 1 minute to get in the park. We arrived at 11AM and when we left at 2PM it had gotten busier and you had to queue longer. We were allowed to roam the park freely, without mandatory walking routes and you were able to keep your distance easily. We only wore our masks when we were in the queue and in the Beatrix glasshouse. It felt like a normal day in pre-COVID-times. The atmosphere in the park was great, all visitors and employees were super happy that the Keukenhof was open again which created a great ambiance. We even made the national news with our happy faces!
On April 9 the park hadn’t reached full bloom yet as the weather had been pretty bad over the last week. I am sure the park will only become more beautiful over the next weeks, but there was plenty to see nonetheless. The Keukenhof is such a visual feast that I wouldn’t know where to look if even more flowers had bloomed. The cherry blossoms mostly lost their blossoms due to the snow of the prior week, I can only imagine how romantic the Keukenhof would have looked had there not been any snow.
Restaurants are not allowed to open yet, but there were plenty of little stores where you could buy a simple dish such as a sandwich, fries or poffertjes. We brought two month old Hugo along, which I was a bit hesitant about at first. With restaurants being closed it seemed like a big hassle to find a warm space to feed him, but with the glasshouse being opened this was no issue at all. I was surprised at seeing lots of babies and kids on the first time of opening, but I must admit it is a kid friendly activity. When I was a kid my mother took me to the Keukenhof each year and I always remembered dreading these visits as I didn’t care about the flowers and I hated all the walking we had to do. I now see how of a luxury this upbringing was and I have become my mother myself.
I expected the park to be really beautiful, but I had no idea that there was a very impressive glasshouse which you could visit. The tulips in the Beatrix glasshouse took my breath away, they were so special and big! I have never seen tulips like these before. I took some pictures to show you how big these tulips are, but the pictures don’t do it justice, you just have to see this for yourself!
As you may have noted I am very enthusiastic about the Keukenhof, I can’t believe I didn’t love it when I was younger, how very spoilt of young me. The Keukenhof is located in the bulb region, which is an absolute must visit in tulip season. Two years ago I hired a tandem-bike with my mother to explore the region, which was an absolute blast. The Keukenhof is also located closely to the dunes and beach of Noordwijk and the historic city of Leiden, so you can easily combine a visit. I would recommend visiting the Keukenhof for about 3 hours, so you can factor that in. While you are in the region you should bring home some tulips. I always buy tulips at Jan van der Slot, he has the most special varieties and the quality is always great!