Next weekend, on Saturday the 16th of April the flower parade will be held. I have got a lot of questions about this event so I try to answer them all in this post.
The route and times:
The flower parade will start in Noordwijk, than travels through the towns of the Bollenstreek and will pass by the Keukenhof in the afternoon.
After the Keukenhof it will travel though Hillegom to the city of Haarlem. For more information about the parade please visit this website: http://www.bloemencorso-bollenstreek.nl/index.asp?lan=en
In some towns and cities there will be music/drum bands walking along or children riding their bikes with flowers. Keep in mind that the parade travels very slowly, if you are driving a car you don’t want to get stuck behind it. Take another route (see at the end of this post)
Exact times about the flower parade cannot be given because of the slow travel. The parade will start on Saturday 16th april around 9.30 AM in Noordwijk on the Boulevard next to the beach. Approximately around 15.35 / 3.35 PM it travels by the Keukenhof and it arrives around 21.00 / 9 PM in the city of Haarlem. See estimated times of 2011 in this PDF: http://www.bloemencorso-bollenstreek.nl/docs/Route-%20en%20tijdschema%20Bloemencorso%202011%20verkorte%20versie%2001-03-2011.pdf
Last year it took around 45 – 60 min until the parade was finished.
Best viewing spots?
There are nice spots everywhere, but it will be crowded. This parade is one of the main events during springtime so it will attract a lot (I mean A LOT!) of visitors. Parade weekend will be one of the busiest weekends in the Keukenhof (next to easter weekend). The spots with the most crowds are in Noordwijk, Lisse and Haarlem. If you are looking for a least crowed spot try the towns of Sassenheim or the main road between Sassenheim and Lisse
Just find a spot along the route and sit / stand before the parade travels by. And just like the parade in Disney world the people who are there first are having the best views.
Tips for finding a spot close (walkable) to the Keukenhof
See my post of last year. http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g188590-i60-k3553760-l25613782-Tulip_update-Amsterdam_Noord_Holland.html (see post number 10)
For a map in Flickr see http://www.flickr.com/photos/nring23/4525591552/in/set-72157623787401449
For people who are disabled keep in mind that the area next to the road is made of grass. So this is not really wheelchair accessible. It is perfect for people with children to play some games or sit in the grass killing time until the parade travels by. (Bring some small toys and snacks with you, and a plastic bag is perfect to sit on the ground/grass)
For people in wheelchair and who are travelling by car, see the parade in Noordwijk (boulevard) or in Noordwijk Binnen. Here the parade travels along the streets with normal pavement. After viewing the parade you can drive up to the Keukenhof and enjoy the flowers.
For people who see the parade in Noordwijk and travel to the Keukenhof afterwards
You don’t want to get stuck behind the parade. It will take forever to get to the Keukenhof. Take this beautiful flowerfield route to the Keukenhof instead. http://www.flickr.com/photos/nring23/5605273633/
What to wear
The last 2 weeks we have wonderful weather. Sunshine, no winds, it definitely feels like springtime. Temperature is around 16 degrees at daytime and at night it is still freezing. So dress in layers. People who are travelling from a warmer climate please take your coat, scarf and even a hat with you. And be surprised that some other people are wearing flip flops and shorts in this kind of weather. If you are staying in a hotel you can ask for the weather forecast of that day, you might need an umbrella (can be bought in a lot of shops as well)
Everybody have a great time, enjoy the parade, Keukenhof and flowerfields!