HOLLAND — The bustle of Tulip Time may be over, but Windmill Island Gardens has big plans beyond May this year.
The park is making plans for a special Christmastime event called “Magic at the Mill” this December, a “spectacular” holiday music and light show at the park.
“The plan is to open for several weekends in December as a special, ticketed event,” said Windmill Island Gardens manager Matt Helmus.
The display will mimic the tulip fields, with hundreds of color-changing LED light bulb “flowers” mounted on “stems,” and lights will also adorn the De Zwaan windmill. The lights can be synchronized to music for an 8minute light show.
Holland City Council authorized Helmus last week to work within a $ 100,000 budget to put together the new event, with funding to come from the park’s own fund balance from its admission revenues and support from the Holland Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, which helped develop the event to draw more tourism in the slower winter months.
“It’s a large up-front cost to purchase and install the LED light display and system, but once it’s up we’re able to replace the bulbs and use it year after year,” Helmus said.
Paired with Kerstmarkt, Holland’s European-style Christmas market, the hope is a large-scale holiday event at Windmill Island Gardens will make Holland an attractive destination in December.
New at the park this summer, visitors will notice a hands-on water exhibit demonstrating how Dutch windmills used vijzels, or water screws, to pump water from the lowlands.
The antique wooden carousel is fully restored and refurbished for the first time in years, and the Dutch street organ was repaired during the off-season by a local craftsman.
A “Tulip Grove” of wooden tulip sculptures will be finished on the island this summer. Wood carving artist “Bearclaw Jack” Eppinga is carving the perennial tulips from a stand of oak trees that died due to the high water levels on Lake Macatawa in 2020 ..
New mill operators have also been hired following the departure of miller Alisa Crawford during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Helmus said the windmill should start turning again this summer as the operators are trained.
Windmill Island Gardens posted record attendance numbers during this year’s Tulip Time Festival and a record season for ticket sales last year.
— Contact reporter Carolyn Muyskens at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter at @cjmuyskens..