Every year, Amsterdam’s elm trees throw their seeds as natural confetti all over town, covering the streets of the Dutch capital with a white blanket of blossom. The phenomenon is known as the “springsnow” and is celebrated with the Springsnow Festival from April 21st to May 21st.
The Springsnow Festival was organized from the initiative of Saskia Hoogendoorn and Lieuwe Martijn Wijnands, known as Tijdmakers. Here is the story of how it all started.
“Once Martijn and I were sitting on a terrace in the city center, and we noticed millions of white flakes flying around”, says Saskia.
After a little research, Saskia and Martijn realized that the “white flakes” were seeds of elm trees – the trees defining Amsterdam’s cityscape for centuries. Astonished by the fact that they have never paid attention to this beauty, they decided to start a festival that would celebrate it.
In the spring of 2012, the Springsnow Festival took place for the very first time, and then more editions followed. Every year, the festival tells the story of Amsterdam’s elm tree from a different perspective, celebrating it with different events.
This year’s edition introduces a poetry walk and honors Johanna Westerdijk, the first Dutch female professor who researched the Dutch Elm Disease.
The elm tree is a signature tree of Amsterdam. There is no place in the world with so many elm trees as there is in the Dutch capital – over 75,000 trees of more than 50 types.
“The best thing about the phenomenon is that it’s so massive,” says Martijn. “Elm trees are literally everywhere.” Check it out yourself! The city council created the map of Amsterdam’s elm trees. Type in your address or postcode, and you’ll find the elm trees nearby.
The organizers of the festival recommend to explore it following the 8km route from the Iepenarboretum to Hortus Botanicus. The route goes all the way through the city center and lets you discover the different types of elm trees, as well as the oldest and the highest ones (marked on the map).
Additionally, you are welcome to join a free tour with a guide taking place on April 23rd at 11 AM. Individual tours on other days are also possible. See here for the detailed info.
Saskia and Martijn emphasize that everyone can take part in the Springsnow Festival. Walk around in the city center, join one of the events organized for this year’s edition or simply take a picture of the elm tree confetti at your feet and share it on social media under the hashtag #SpringsnowAtMyFeet. As easy as that!
Did you know that American author John Green was so impressed by the “falling of flowers from the sky” that he wrote about it in his novel “The Fault in our Stars”? And he wasn’t the only one! Every year, the Springsnow Festival inspires many photographers, writers and poets.
The organizers of the festival, in turn, drew inspiration from the “springsnow” to create a unique city perfume based on the natural scent of the wood and leaves of the elm tree. Eau d’Amsterdam was launched in 2014 and is now available for sale in various locations.