Things to Do in May: Celebrate tulips and lavender, have some BBQ, fly a kite

Spring is in full bloom as we welcome May’s jam-packed calendar of events. As the song goes, “Tulips are blooming in Holland, Michigan,” and a celebration in Fennville marks the beginning of lavender season. Whether you’re into running, car shows, art shows, barbecue and blues, or an old-fashioned barn dance, you can find it in May along the Lakeshore.

There’s even an opportunity to go fly a kite. We hope this monthly column inspires you to get out and explore the Lakeshore communities across Allegan, Muskegon, and Ottawa counties. This list includes options for everyone, regardless of age, ability, or interest. 

Top May highlights

Tulip Time Festival
Throughout Holland
May 7–15 
Both free and gated events.
Thousands of tulips, two parades, Dutch-costumed “klompen” dancers, live entertainment, and special shows and exhibits are sure to delight folks of all ages. Climb to the 5th floor of the only imported working Dutch windmill in the United States and learn how winter wheat is ground into flour.  Wander among 50,000 tulips planted at eye-level in the all-new tulip immersion garden, experience an authentic Dutch village, and watch as wooden shoes are carved on centuries-old equipment.

Opening Weekend Celebration — Summerhouse Lavender Farm 
2975 65th St., Fennville, 
May 7-8, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
Several local artists will be on hand to celebrate the beginning of the lavender season. Not only can you tour the farm, but you can also enjoy live glass-blowing, yoga demonstrations, woodturning, and more.

2nd Annual Cruise-In Car Show at the USS LST 393
Mart Dock on Lake Muskegon, Downtown Muskegon
May 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Free to the public ($10 for car registrants)
This unique car show benefits the USS LST 393’s D-DAY Plus event in June. Wander among vintage cars in the shadow of this historic World War II vessel, and participate in raffles and 50/50 drawings. Dash Plaques are given to the first 75 vehicle registrants, and trophies are awarded in a number of categories, including the Top 10 and People’s Choice. 

ALEgan Beer, BBQ & Blues Fest
Allegan County Fairgrounds, 150 Douglas St., Allegan
May 21, 2-7 p.m.
Cost: $45
This inaugural event is hosted by the Allegan Jaycees in collaboration with Tantrick Brewing Company. You can sample the area’s finest beer and barbecue while enjoying live music by the JR Clark Band and the Out of Favor Boys.

Grand Haven Kite Festival
Grand Haven State Park, 1001 S. Harbor Drive, Grand Haven
May 21 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and May 22, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Free with a state park recreation license plate tab. 
Enjoy a day at the beach with the sky filled with colorful kites of all shapes and sizes. World-famous stunt kite-flyers perform to music on the center flying field; kites larger than a school bus hover just to the south. Bring your own kite to fly on the open flying field, or test-fly the year’s newest kites on one of the manufacturers’ fields.

Summer Family Barn Dance

Glass House Creative Community, 6024 Chicago Drive, Zeeland
May 24, 6:30-8 p.m. 
Cost: $20-$80
Looking for something “new and different” for all ages? Then head to the Family Barn Dance in Zeeland. Young and old alike can learn some old-time country dances, including squares,
circles, contras, and more. And, best of all, no experience is necessary. The musicians (banjo, mandolin, and fiddle) and caller for the evening are from the Michigan Academy of Folk Music. 

More May activities:

Exhibit: Art-inspired Miniature Golf

Through May 22
Muskegon Museum of Art, 296 W Webster Ave, Muskegon
Cost: Admission is free for members; $15 for non-members; $5 for children 17 and younger

Exhibit: Contemporary Portraits of Native Americans by James Cook
Through June 20
Holland Museum, 31 West 10th St, Holland

“Mamma Mia” (The musical)
Frauenthal Center  425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
May 1, 2:30 p.m. doors open; 3 p.m. show
Cost: $25

Art on Main (artists’ pop-up sale)
Washington Avenue between 2nd and 3rd streets, Grand Haven
May 1, 1-4 p.m.

Evergreen Chorale Concert
Evergreen Commons, 480 State St., Holland
May 3, 7 p.m. doors open; 7:30 p.m. concert
A freewill offering will be taken.

Concert with Mary Fahl (former lead singer for October Project)
Seven Steps Up Live Music & Events, 116 S Jackson St, Spring Lake
May 6, 8 p.m., doors open 7:15 p.m.
Cost: $32-$42
Details: Mary Fahl (former lead singer for October Project) (

Grand Haven Farmer’s Market
301 Harbor Drive (near Chinook Pier), Grand Haven
Every Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Tulip Time Run
Kollen Park, 240 Kollen Park Drive, Holland
May 7,  8 a.m. to noon

The Market at Westshore
The Shops at Westshore, 12331 James St., Holland  
May 7, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Spring Arts & Craft Show
Zeeland Creekside Middle School, 179 W. Roosevelt Ave., Zeeland
May 7, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Holy Smokes Barbecue Competition
The Brewers Lounge at Pigeon Hill, 895 4th St., Muskegon
May 7, 1-4 p.m.
Cost: $50

Root to Farm Gravel Ride
TripelRoot, 146 East Main, Zeeland
May 7, noon to 4 p.m.; ride begins at 12:30 p.m.
Cost: $15

Vintage Baseball Games
Riverview Park, 95 College Ave., Holland
May 7, 2-5 p.m.

Free Dinner & Movie Night: “Up From the Bottoms: The Search for the American Dream”
The Momentum Center, 714 Columbus Ave., Grand Haven
May 13, 5 p.m. dinner, 6 p.m. movie begins

“Finally Sujari” (West Michigan Symphony)
Frauenthal Center, 425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
May 13, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $10-$62

Concert with Seth Glier
Seven Steps Up Live Music & Events, 116 S Jackson St, Spring Lake
May 13-14, 8 p.m., doors open 7:15 p.m.
Cost: $3-$40
Details: Seth Glier (

Grand Haven Jeep Fest
1 Washington Ave., Grand Haven
May 14, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Free (raffle tickets available for purchase), $40 for registrants

Wine on the Water
Star of Saugatuck, 716 Water St., Saugatuck
May 14, 4 p.m.
Cost: $60

Art on Center Gallery Stroll
Downtown Douglas
May 14, 5-7 p.m.

Free Family Movie: “Raya and the Last Dragon”
Frauenthal Center, 425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
May 15, 2:15 p.m. doors open; 3 p.m. movie

Concert with Liz Longly
Seven Steps Up Live Music & Events, 116 S Jackson St, Spring Lake
May 15, 7 p.m., doors open 6:15 p.m.
Cost: $25-$35
Details: An evening with Liz Longley (

Lunar Eclipse Star Party
Muskegon Astronomical Observatory, 702 N. Maple Island Road
May 15, 11 p.m. 
Free, Donations accepted

Holland Farmer’s Market Opens for Season
Holland Civic Center Place Parking Lot, 150 W. Eighth St., Holland
Begins May 18, every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Michigan Mandolin Orchestra 
The Playhouse at White Lake, 304 S. Mears Avenue,  White Lake
May 20, 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $15 in advance; $20 at the door
Michigan Adventure Race
Muskegon State Park
May 21, 6 a.m.

ForeShore Adventure Race
Pere Marquette Beach, Muskegon
May 21, noon
Cost: $50 registration

Beer on the Boat 
Star of Saugatuck, 716 Water St., Saugatuck
May 21, 4 p.m.
Cost: $60 

Under the Sea Prom
Fellinlove Farm, 6364, 144th Ave., Holland
May 21, 5-8 p.m.
Donations encouraged
Fruitport Old Fashioned Days
Throughout Fruitport
May 25–30

Yonder Mountain Live at the Deck
The Deck, 1601 Beach St., Muskegon
May 25, 7 p.m.
Cost: $25
Dance Theatre of Harlem
Frauenthal Center  425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
May 25, 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $25-$35

YMCA Kick-Off to Summer Run
Grand Haven YMCA, 1 Y Drive, Grand Haven
May 28, 8-10 a.m.
Cost: $13-35

Spring Peddler’s Market
Church Street, between Main and Central avenues,  Zeeland
May 28, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Milwaukee Clipper Memorial Day Party
SS Milwaukee Clipper, 2098 Lakeshore Drive, Muskegon
May 28, 7:30-10 p.m.
Cost: $10 (free for members)

Greater Muskegon Memorial Day Parade & Music Ceremony
Begins on Morris Ave, ends at Hackley Park, Muskegon
May 30, 9 a.m. ( Immediately following the parade, a free Musical Memorial Day Ceremony will be held at the Frauenthal Center.)

Memorial Day Parade
Parade begins at Main & Centennial; ceremony at Zeeland Cemetery immediately  following the parade
May 30, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Memorial Day Parade
Holland, begins at Eighth and Central, ends at Pilgrim Home Cemetery with a ceremony at noon
May 30, 9:30 to noon
Need suggestions for specific destinations or activities, check out these tourism resources for details:
Holland Area Visitors Bureau
Grand Haven CVB
Ottawa County Parks & Recreation
Saugatuck CVB
Allegan County Parks & Recreation


Read more articles by Sally Laukitis.