Far more than flowers

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Far more than flowers
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CASTLE
Page 16
KEUKENHOF
Far more than flowers
While its name immediately conjures up images of brightly coloured tulips, the magnificent
castle of Keukenhof has a much grander repertoire – although flowers are certainly in abundance
in its vast gardens and the many wedding bouquets that are thrown.
TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PHOTOS: HELLA RADIC – HOOGZAND
Sharing the same name as the celebrated
gardens situated directly opposite, the
fairytale-esque castle has adopted a modern stance to event hosting and has quickly
become one of the most popular venues in
the country.
The 17th-century castle, described as “the
hidden gem” of the Netherlands, was originally built in 1640, but remained in private
hands until very recently, explains Kasteel
Keukenhof’s Robert Faas. “Back in the
Dutch Golden Age,” he recounts, “many
people made a fortune with trade. It was
common for rich landowners to possess a
16 | Issue 8 | August 2014
summer house.” Once a retreat for balmy
summer days, the castle was a prized
country home and thus suitably well looked
after. With due care and attention given to
the gardens, it comes as no surprise to
hear that the famed Keukenhof gardens
are still part of the castle’s estate.
In 2003 following the wishes of the last remaining Count, the castle was passed on to
the Stichting Kasteel Keukenhof [Castle
Keukenhof Foundation]. “Running a castle
isn’t cheap,” explains Faas when asked how
it turned from family home to host of the
Netherlands’ most popular Medieval Fair
and Christmas Market. “To fund the maintenance and take proper care of the
grounds, we’ve established an intimate
team of enthusiastic employees.” Together,
they’re steering the castle and its events,
making it the go-to location for special days.
Whether it’s a wedding, charity ball, corporate meeting or team-building day, the team
work dedicatedly to ensure that any event
runs as smoothly as the castle’s lawns.
Green-fingered good work
With 230 hectares to tend to, the castle relies on 180 volunteers, explains Faas. With
many winding paths that weave through
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Discover Benelux | City Special | The Hague
A haven of tranquility and nobility, the Castle of Keukenhof is a delightful location handily situated not far from many major cities.
the well-tended grounds, the castle is an
ideal location to escape the city. “We’re just
a matter of minutes away from Amsterdam,”
says Faas. In the middle of the Randstad
(the combination of Amsterdam, Utrecht,
The Hague and Rotterdam), the Keukenhof
Castle is easily reached from all directions.
With August heralding a weekly farmers’
market along with its annual Medieval Fair,
set to attract upwards of 30,000 international visitors, December marks its delightful three-day Christmas Market. “Our
Christmas Festival is ranked second in Europe for its atmosphere,” says Faas
proudly. “We’ve got special exhibitions running throughout the year too alongside
classical music concerts and dj sets –
you’d be surprised!” Currently, the magnificent grounds are playing host to some of
the world’s greatest artists in collaboration
with the Cobra Museum of Modern Art.
The ‘Cobra in the Open’ season of sculptures runs until mid-September, showcasing the best of the world’s post-WWII art in
the great outdoors.
spectacular place to host a meeting or
seminar.” Given its heritage, the atmosphere is suitably romantic but there are
other options too, as marquees and rustic
outbuildings can be transformed into your
coveted venue. For any occasion the
choice exists of the very grand and rather
exclusive castle and four additional outbuildings, each available for hire and
primed for whatever the event calls for.
Equipped with all the required and desired
technical capabilities, the castle’s retake on
traditional seminar spaces is proving infinitely popular. Born out of a desire to make
people feel at home, the new designs offer
meeting attendees the opportunity to relax,
therefore enabling better and closer networking and sharing of ideas.
Softening the corporate edge
“As the castle remains in keeping with its
rich history,” Faas continues, “it’s quite a
The team’s newest offering is the Vergaderhuis [Meeting House], which couldn’t
be more aptly named, explains Faas. “It’s
got such a homely atmosphere, much
more ‘back-to-basics’. You’ve got complete control over the building for the day –
you can really make yourself at home and
where else can you be as productive than
at home?” he says with a smile.
Catering for corporate or private gatherings
can be arranged entirely to suit your
wishes. On-site the castle boasts a restaurant inside the old farmhouse, but off-site
catering and self-catering are also popular
choices.
Over the centuries, the castle has evolved
into what it is today: a prime location in the
heart of Holland for business conferences,
seminars, workshops and weddings. So
popular it is in fact, that King WillemAlexander and Queen Maxima graced the
castle with their presence in March this
year while on an official state visit with the
Chinese Prime Minister. “What’s really special about Keukenhof,” concludes Faas,
“is the complete juxtaposition of the historic
castle with our modern offerings in terms of
venue hire and events.”
www.kasteelkeukenhof.nl
Issue 8 | August 2014 | 17

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