New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Spring in bloom at Union Square’s Tulip Day

A pop-up installation of 200,000 tulips brought thousands of New Yorkers to Union Square for an afternoon of flower picking.
(Shiphrah Moses for WSN)

This past Sunday afternoon, locals flocked to Union Square to grab a free bouquet of tulips from a pop-up garden of 200,000 flowers. In honor of Tulip Day, Royal Anthos, a Dutch trade association for flower bulbs, hosted the event in association with the European Union and the Netherlands Consulate General of New York. The holiday in the Netherlands celebrates the beginning of the tulip season, and though Tulip Day events have taken place in the past in U.S. cities, like San Francisco, this was the first for New York City.

“It’d be a nice tradition to have to come here with my wife and my kids on a yearly basis,” Antonio, who visited to pick tulips with his wife, Gigi, said. “Having the flowers and receiving spring — it brings joy.”

Two people wearing sunglasses stand side by side and smile for the camera while holding paper bags filled with tulips.
Antonio and Gigi. (Shiphrah Moses for WSN)

The event is part of the Future 400, a multi-year initiative run by the Netherlands Consulate General to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first Dutch settlements in New York. In addition to Tulip Day, the initiative includes exhibitions, talks and programs on the historical ties between the Netherlands and New York City, ranging from Dutch art to Indigenous stories. Staff and attendees alike, however, are hopeful that Tulip Day will become an annual event.

“This is my favorite flower,” said Sarina Blanco who came from Harlem to attend the event. “I would love for this to happen every year or twice a year during the spring,”

A person wearing a blue and white plaid jacket holds a paper bag filled with tulips while smiling for the camera.
Sarina Blanco. (Shiphrah Moses for WSN)

With the sun shining throughout the afternoon, many found Tulip Day to be the ideal way to celebrate the start of spring, especially after a stormy week and chilly start to the season. 

“It’s definitely making me feel like spring’s actually here in the city,” said Marina Leibowtiz.

A small black and white dog on a leash stands by black crates filled with tulips.
“It’s nice to have the community come and get some flowers,” said Hanna Bruy, who accompanied Leibowtiz, with her dog Oliver. (Shiphrah Moses for WSN)

Although many had to register to pick tulips from the makeshift flower field, the event allowed passers-by to enter through general admission by the late afternoon, making sure every last flower found a home. By the end of the day, over 17,000 people had attended and walked away with paper bags overflowing with the colorful blossoms.

Sarah Ko lives in the neighborhood, but she didn’t know about the event until she asked someone on the street where they had gotten their bouquet of tulips. Though an impromptu occasion, she was happy to have stopped by.

“This is the perfect springtime activity,” Ko said. “They’re tulips — a representation of a change in season.”

While the tulips were grown in the United States, the bulbs were cultivated in and imported from Europe. During the event, Ahmed Dadou, consul general of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in New York, introduced an exclusive New York tulip variety, called the Future 400, meant to symbolize the connection between the United States and the Netherlands. 

“I like working with the tulips and making people happy,” said Bo Voets, a staff member whose family works for the flower farm that grows the bulbs. “It’s very beautiful.”

A woman in an orange jacket and black beanie leans against a barricade. Hundreds of people behind her line up to enter the garden.
Bo Voets. (Shiphrah Moses for WSN)

Most of the staff running the event were friends and family of people who helped grow the tulips, cultivate the bulbs or transport the flowers. Voets traveled from the Netherlands to New York exclusively for the event.

“There’s nothing more spring than a whole bunch of flowers, right?”

Contact Juliana Guarracino at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Juliana Guarracino
Juliana Guarracino, Culture Editor
Juliana Guarracino is a senior majoring in Global Media, Culture, and Communication and Romance Languages. Aside from writing, she has a passion for cooking, travel and art history. When she's not working, she enjoys reading, playing cozy video games and journaling at cafes. She will take any book recommendations, but cannot promise you that she will read them. You can find her @juliana.guarracino on Instagram.
Shiphrah Moses
Shiphrah Moses, Identity & Equity Editor
Shiphrah Moses is a sophomore studying Dramatic Writing at Tisch. She lives in the Bay Area in California, but is originally from Bangalore, India. She loves writing, acting, music and pretty much anything that involves storytelling. When she’s not doing any of the above, she’s either napping or doing her nails. You can find her at @shiphrahmoses on Instagram or contact her at [email protected].

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