About Tulp Festival
The founder of the Tulp Festival is garden designer, Saskia Albrecht. It is her ambition to bring the tulip back to the Amsterdam streets, with the motto ‘a tulip for every Amsterdammer’.
When Saskia Albrecht visited the famous tulip festival in Istanbul – where 14 million tulip bulbs are planted annually by the city council – the idea was born to start a festival of similar size in Amsterdam, during April and May.
A tulip for every Amsterdammer also means a tulip from every Amsterdammer. Schools, businesses, organisations and local councils plant bulbs, residents are also encouraged to join in and brighten up the Amsterdam streets. In this way Tulp Festival brings the city, companies, residents and visitors together. It invites everyone on a surprising journey of discovery, that offers new things to explore every year, and with the ever-growing number of inhabitants (currently around 850,000) is on course to expand to many new locations.
The origin of the tulip
For centuries Amsterdam has been associated with the tulip. From its native soil in the palace gardens of Constantinople, the tulip started conquering the world in the 16th century. The Hortus Botanicus in Leiden had also managed to lay hands on the seemingly insignificant bulb. First it was regarded as something edible, but soon its real value was discovered.
Around 1620 a true tulip mania started. This bulb planted in country retreats of rich regents was used to show off the owner’s fortune and good taste. In 1636, however, the Dutch spirit of commerce took the wheel and soon trade went over the top. Traders invested in bulbs they never beheld, and sold them before the bulbs had even seen daylight. A new owner could only guess the value of his goods.
The ‘breaking’ of tulips
Another contribution to this wealth was the phenomenon of ‘breaking’of certain flowers. A plain flower could one year be flamed or feathered the next. Nobody knew what caused it, but the effect was sensational. Besides adding to the bulb’s appearance, it offered great opportunities for speculation. Growers prided themselves on having discovered the secret: they sprinkled the bulbs with pigeon droppings and experimented with pigments in the soil, which sometimes resulted in something beautiful. Not until the 20th century the secret behind the ‘breaking’ of the tulips was discovered: it was caused by a virus transmitted by plant lice, however, by then the tulipomania belonged to a distant past.
The end of the Tulip Mania
At the start of the year 1637 the tulip ‘bubble’, mockingly called tulipomania by later generations, reached its summit: tulip bulbs were sold at astronomical amounts, and the shrewd merchant was king. This situation was not meant to last. As early as February 1637, the curtain fell. One moment, three bulb s were sold at the price of one canal house each and the next the market collapsed. Many people went bankrupt and were ridiculed in countless cartoons, but from the non Amsterdam is for ever bounded to the tulip.
Tulp Festival aspires a new tulip mania, however, without the disastrous effects of yore.