Explore Richardson Adventure Farm’s Tulip Festival

By Nat Wexler | Photo by Holly Leitner

The words “Tulip Festival” may conjure up images of European charm (the Netherlands is famously the tulip capital of the world, of course), or possibly bring to mind well-known events in Holland, Michigan or the Pacific Northwest. But since 2021, one of the best ways to enjoy these beautiful spring flowers locally is by making a trip to the Richardson Adventure Farm in nearby Spring Grove, Illinois, which hosts its own popular tulip festival on a portion of its 540-acre working farm.

The Richardson family first read about tulip festivals about five years ago in a farming magazine. After taking a research trip to the West Coast, the family decided that a tulip festival would be an excellent addition to their agritourism farm, which had been hosting a popular fall corn maze for nearly two decades. Planning began in the autumn of 2020, as the Richardsons planted the first 300,000 tulip bulbs. Though the tulip festival only takes place during a few weekends in the spring due to the blooming schedule of the tulips, planning for the event requires nearly year-round logistics, from ordering the bulbs, plotting the planting designs, planting the bulbs, growing the tulips and prepping the farm for visitors during the festival itself. The Richardsons have continued to plant roughly 300,000 bulbs each autumn, a total of 40 varieties of tulips in single and multi-color blocks, and since tulips are perennials, everything planted blooms again each spring. This means that this spring, there will be close to one million tulips blooming.

The Richardson Adventure Farm Tulip Festival differs from others around the United States in that visitors are encouraged to “get up close and personal” with the tulips. “We really encourage visitors to sit down on the ground beside the tulips,” says George Richardson, a co-owner of Richardson Adventure Farm, explaining that the immersive element is an important part of the experience. Because of this philosophy, the Richardsons planted the tulip beds with intentional pathways between them, so everyone who visits can get close to the tulips without stepping directly into them. (This also has the benefit of making the tulip fields ADA accessible.) In addition to the tulips, visitors can enjoy the lakeside festival area, which includes food trucks, homemade snacks, wine tastings, music and more. Another bonus: There’s a gift shop and indoor restrooms available.

The Tulip Festival is one of several events visitors can experience at the Richardson Adventure Farm throughout the year. This June, the farm will host a Craft Beer Adventure Festival with more than 40 beers, wines and spirits available to sample. In the early autumn, the farm hosts a Sunflower Festival, and immediately following the Sunflower Festival is one of the farm’s signature events: the corn maze and adventure activities. Every year since 2001, the Richardson Adventure Farm has hosted a corn maze on the property. And this is not just any corn maze. The Richardsons’ version spans 28 acres and is considered one of the “world’s largest corn mazes.” What truly separates the Richardson Adventure Farm corn maze from others in the area, in addition to its impressive acreage, is its incredible designs, different each year. Past themes have included tributes to Chicago-area sports teams, James Bond movies and The Beatles, to name just a few.

Between the day after Thanksgiving and roughly mid-December, the Richardson Adventure Farm operates a Christmas Tree Farm a few minutes away from the main location. The tree farm currently grows over 50,000 Christmas trees annually. And in addition to hosting festivals and supporting a working farm, the picturesque property also hosts private events such as weddings, reunions and corporate gatherings.

Incredibly, the farm has been in the Richardson family since it was homesteaded in 1836 by Robert Richardson, who moved to northern Illinois from England. Since its founding, the farm has doubled from it original size of 240 acres to 544 acres. Today, the Richardson Adventure Farm is owned and operated by members of the fifth and sixth generations of the Richardson family.

The dates of the Richardson Tulip Festival are weather dependent and subject to the spring’s growing season schedule. For up-to-date information about the 2023 event dates and ticket prices, visit the Richardson Adventure Farm website at richardsonadventurefarm.com.

Prepare for Your Visit

To find out when the Tulip Festival will open, follow Richardson Adventure Farm on Facebook and Instagram, or visit richardsonadventurefarm.com. Here are a few more details:

  • Plentiful, free parking.
  • Grounds include a private lake with a walking trail.
  • Picnic tables available. Bring your own food, or enjoy food trucks, and beer and wine for sale.
  • Free games on site:giant checkers, Jenga, cornhole, etc.
  • Live music on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
  • Dogs on a leash welcome.
  • Additional fee to bring a professional photographer.

Tips for amateur photographers:

  1. Play with angles. Try laying on the ground and shooting toward the sky, or aim your camera directly above the tulips for a unique perspective.
  2. Get closer. For great shots, tell your subjects to get as close to the tulips as they can, sitting directly behind or next to them if possible.
  3. Color-coordinate your subjects and surroundings. If your subject is wearing pink, head for the corresponding section of the fields.
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