In Castiglione del Lago this colorful and cheerful Tulip event “Festa del Tulipano” has been celebrated since 1956. It attracts many visitors and it is organized by the Castiglione del Lago Association, every year on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter.
Probably everybody knows that tulips are a typical Dutch flower. Being Dutch I remember the colorful fields of tulips passing by my train window on my way to work. They had different colors. Yellow, red, purple, white, pink and orange. And here, in this little village in Umbria where I now live, is a Tulip Festival every year. Is this a coincidence?
The citizens of Castiglione del Lago told me about this typical “Holland” festival. Being Dutch I couldn’t miss this flower event, of course! “Wow” fantastic! I enjoyed a colorful day in Umbria. But where do they get the tulips from? And why this tulip event? I heard a lot of stories about the history of this festival. I really would not know which one is true. Everybody in this village tells his own story.
A friend of mine told me about an Italian who started with planting tulip bulbs in greenhouses. He only sold the bulbs to planters in Holland, not the flowers. At the end he did not know what to do with the flowers. Therefor, he organized together with people from the village a parade with decorated floats.
Another local at the nearby bar told me a different story. The origin of the festival is due to some Dutch families who had chosen to live in Castiglione del Lago. Here they brought the custom to celebrate the start of Spring with tulips in windows, on balconies and with small wagons. They used tulips imported from Holland for the decorations.
The evening before the tulip festivaI I was invited to come and see how the volunteers decorated the cars. On the floor of the barn where they stored the cars, I saw thousands of colorful tulips. Also black tulips! There were so many!
As soon as fresh tulips arrive they start decorating. From the afternoon till midnight or even later. This is not the only preparation for this tulip event. Months before the festival, the volunteers already begin to invent the floats. It is also technical work, they explained to me. Dolls on the floats must move a little for example, and not only stand still. It must be colorful, original and spectacular. The people who come and visit must enjoy!
It was interesting to see how they decorated the dolls and many other funny details. They do not decorate with the flowers itself, they use only the leaves of the tulips and special glue. My compliments for the volunteers, because I have seen how much work it is. Obviously, they also ate together: pasta with tomato sauce, meat, wine and French fries. I was invited to stay and eat with them. How kind!
On the decorated cars I saw different kind of characters, like a Bialetti mascot, a black Calimero, a funny captain on a boat, a pot of Nutella chocolate cream with a giant.
I made some pictures of the preparations and during the parade:
The Tulip festival is for everybody. Taverns are open for three days to taste fine local products. The streets, windows and balconies are decorated. On the last “important” day, in the afternoon is the cheerful parade in historical costume and you can admire the decorated floats in the centre of Castiglione del Lago.
It is crowded with people, but worth a visit. It is also a festival for children. If you are in Umbria in April, don’t miss it. A cheerful experience for everybody.
– written by Sylvia van der Male –
Also in april 2016 we enjoyed the yearly Tulip event in Castiglione del Lago. Read our blog post about this wonderful experience.