1. Turn up at Tulipmania
Here’s some tulip trivia: The flower originates from Central Asia, but is now most associated with the Netherlands, where it has been cultivated since the 1600s. When it was first introduced to the Dutch, these then-exotic blossoms were prized as status symbols. Speculative tulip trading drove prices up so much that rare bulbs were at one point worth the price of a stately Amsterdam mansion.
The tulip bubble eventually burst, and these days, thankfully, tulips simply herald the coming of spring in temperate climates, and in Singapore too. This year, the fifth edition of the popular Tulipmania flower show at Gardens By The Bay features over 30,000 tulips and hyacincths from some 90 different varieties from the Netherlands.
From now till May 7, Pollen is offering $10 off its three-course or five-course lunch tasting menus for Flower Dome visitors. Simply present your Flower Dome ticket stub and quote “Tulipmania” to enjoy this promotion on the same day of your visit. The promotion is not available on the eve of and on public holidays, and advance reservations are encouraged.
Call Pollen at 66049988, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
2. View some van Gogh
Tulips aren’t the only Dutch export being showcased at Tulipmania this year. The floral displays draw inspiration from Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh, recreating two of his paintings (a self-portrait and The Starry Night) with tulips and hyacinths, and taking cues from the colour palette of his oeuvre for the other flowerbeds.
Feel like taking your chances at a free trip that will get you even closer to van Gogh’s masterpieces? Try your luck at the Tulipmania Instagram contest organised by official partner airline KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, which has daily Singapore-Amsterdam flights. Take a photo of yourself at the photo-stand in the Flower Dome, upload it on Instagram and share a little bit about why you love Tulipmania (with hashtags #Gardensbythebay #GBTulipmania #KLM), and you might just win a set of van Gogh-themed limited-edition gifts, or even a pair of return tickets to Amsterdam with admission tickets to the Van Gogh Museum there. This contest is for Singapore residents only, and you can check out more details here.
The Van Gogh Museum houses the world’s largest collection of the artist’s paintings, so it’s perfect for tracing the artistic evolution of this iconic painter. The museum building was designed by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld, a key figure in the De Stijl artistic movement founded in Amsterdam in 1917. The movement’s proponents (including painter Piet Mondrian) believed in the purity of geometric forms and primary colours, and you can check out more of their work in the neighbouring Stedelijk Museum.
3. Kick back at Keunkenhof
Make it to Amsterdam before May 21, and tulips galore (millions, in fact) can be found at Keukenhof, the world-famous garden that is only open for eight weeks every year, to showcase spring blossoms. It’s only about 30 minutes by car from Amsterdam, and the floral display here is essentially a living catalogue for Dutch floriculturalists to show off their wares.
If you can tear your eyes away from the vivid blooms, there’s lots of Dutch design here to admire as well. The park’s elegant new entrance is created by Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo, and this year, the garden has a centrepiece inspired by the abstract styles of Mondrian and Rietveld.
4. Amble in Amsterdam
For lovers of art and design, the Conservatorium hotel in the city centre has a location that can’t be beat—it’s right in the heart of Amsterdam’s cultural hub, Oud Zuid (Old South), and a short walk away from the Royal Concertgebouw (Royal Concert Hall), the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum and the Van Gogh Museum. It’s also near the quirky indie boutiques of De Negen Straatjes (‘The Nine Streets', a hipster shopping district), where design havens like The Frozen Fountain offer tastefully curated selections of contemporary Dutch design.
The Conservatorium itself is a worthy stop on any architectural tour of this beautifully conserved city. The original Neo-Gothic building was designed by Dutch architect Daniel Knuttel, and it was once the home of the Sweelinck Conservatory, before relaunching as a luxury hotel in 2011. The hotel treasures its artistic heritage—students of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam perform every weekend in the lounge, and March, May and June are designated Art Months, when the lounge displays works by different artists. There are permanent installations as well, including a rather posh sculpture of Miffy, the rabbit character conceived by Dutch artist Dick Bruna.