Ottawa Tulip Festival – Part 1

For this year’s May long weekend holiday we decided to head back to our nation’s capitol for the 64th annual edition of the Ottawa Tulip Festival.


For many this mid-through-late-May event highlights the true arrival of spring or perhaps the promise of summer, but those familiar with the origins of the festival know that it is first and foremost a sign of enduring friendship between two nations.


During World War II Ottawa offered refuge to members of the Dutch royal family in exile, and Canadian troops later played a pivotal role in liberating their homeland from Nazi occupation.


After the war gifts including an initial shipment of over 100,000 tulip bulbs were sent to Ottawa in appreciation of Canada’s help, with subsequent shipments of tens of thousands more each year since then.


If you’re interested you can read more about the origins of the tulip festival and the legacy of the friendship between our two countries on the official tulip festival website.


During the festival the National Capitol Commission (NCC) maintains roughly 1-million tulips in over 100 beds at 30 locations around the city.

The biggest concentration can be found at Commissioners Park near Dow’s Lake, where on any given year you’ll be able to tiptoe past roughly 50 varieties and close to 300,000 flowers at this one location.


There’s a paved pathway that takes you past the beds on both sides, along the length of this linear park.


If you plan on strolling the whole length of the path taking ample time to stop for pics, plan on roughly 2 to 2 1/2 hours total.



Along the path there were a number of inspirational or thought-provoking messages written in chalk and designed for sharing on social media.


If you do go there are plenty of benches and open grass to sit, rest, and admire the view, so pack a picnic and make a day of it, but do get there early on weekends especially if the weather is nice.


There’s ample inexpensive parking in a nearby lot, but with only one entrance it took us almost 20 minutes to get the car parked and the line-ups to get in were even longer when we were leaving a few hours later in mid-afternoon.


I took hundreds of pics while there that I’m still sorting through, some of which will appear in an upcoming follow-up post.




This was our first visit and hopefully not our last. I was amazed by the beauty and the variety of what we saw – I had no idea so many different types of tulips even existed.


For those interested in attending next year, the 65th edition of the Ottawa Tulip Festival will begin on May 12th, 2017.

I hope you enjoyed the tour – thanks for looking 🙂

About Norm 3.0

World’s youngest grumpy old man & heart failure wonder boy. Interests: writing, woodworking, photography, travel, tennis, wine, and I know a bit about power tools.
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59 Responses to Ottawa Tulip Festival – Part 1

  1. joannesisco says:

    One of my cousins from Holland, and her husband, have been visiting with us for the past month and we were just talking the other day about the Dutch Royal Family in exile in Canada during the war. What a coincidence that I’ve now just read your post which I had to share with her.
    In another hour we were be heading to the airport for her trip home and my life will resort to *normal*.

    Great photos Norm. I had NO IDEA there were so very many. It sounds like it’s definitely worth the trip to Ottawa for a visit and it’s now on my growing list of things to do in Ottawa 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hammad Rais says:

    Marvelous tulips!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. reocochran says:

    The very vibrant photos brightened my mood, Norm. I liked the frilly-edged tulip in the last photo and the one with orange-red, lavender and maroon right before the end. Like the first encore and the Finale fireworks display! Smiles, Robin

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bikerchick57 says:

    Ohmigosh, the tulips are gorgeous! I especially love the combo of purple, orange and red. I may have to add this to the bucket list of places I’d love to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. restlessjo says:

    Aren’t they a lovely sight? I have a favourite. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lynne Ayers says:

    I missed it this year but really must plan on taking it in next year – it should be a great year to be in Ottawa – 150 and all that. I understand there is a new tulip for next year, the Canada150 – red and white of course.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Aimer Boyz says:

    Thanks, Norm, great pictures. I’ve always loved the story of how we ended up with so many tulips. I just got back from a river cruise and out tour guide in Amsterdam said, “Welcome home.” to us Canadians. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      That’s a wonderful story 🙂
      We’ve been eyeing the ads for those river cruises for a while now – how was it?


      • Aimer Boyz says:

        I am a total convert to river cruises. Smaller ships, fewer people, less hassle getting on and off the ship. No tendering. Most ports, you can walk off the ship and in to town. We did Venice on a river cruise and loved it 🙂

        I was worried I’d be bored at night because there isn’t much to do on these ships, no casinos on Broadway-like shows that the ocean ships have, but I was wrong .

        With your photography skills you’d love it 🙂


  8. Dymoon says:

    there are a couple of the pictures, that I don’t know if it was intentional, but living here I see a lot of pictures, you gave them are real picture perfect look, like postcards I’ve seen in olden days, you gave depth and definition that I really enjoy. thanks for revitalizing tulips for me

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Marie says:

    Beautiful. I love tulips. Check out Istanbul in April, which is tulip month there.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A tulip festival in Canada, wow, and what amazing photos. So colourful.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. jan says:

    Wow, incredible pictures. We can’t grow tulips down here – it doesn’t get cold enough in the winter! ; (

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What a wonderful idea the tulip festival. I have never been.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. cwaugh212 says:

    Thank you Norm. What a marvelous display of flowers for all to see. I like the fact that this special bond between Canada and the Netherlands has continued. Sometimes friends are hard to find in time of need and Canada stepped up big time during the war. What a beautiful way of expressing a sincere thank you from the Queen.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. joey says:

    So beautiful! I love tulips! Thank you for sharing! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  15. There are the tulips! LOVELY! Thanks for sharing them! Tell me you found some in front of a “door!”

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I like your photos very much. The liberation of the Netherlands by Canadian forces is celebrated and commemorated here every year; even old soldiers who took part in the battles come over here to take part in the acts. Nice to know that on the other side of the pond you can enjoy the beauty of all those tulips.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Stunning photography and views, Norm. Tulips, in the UK ,tend to be over by the time May arrives. The ones we plant in our garden every Autumn tend to be dug up by the squirrels. Even with Toby on guard, they always seem to get them.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Nice pics. We went last year and it is great to see all of these beautiful tulips. (Suzanne)

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Lynn says:

    I have yet to get up to the Tulip Festival in Ottawa but I hear & see by your pictures, that it is a sight to behold. I think they gifted a new tulip this year called the Canadian, representative of our flag. I have marked the date on my calendar in hopes of making an effort to attend in 2017!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Thanks Lynn. Yes from what we saw the new one introduced this year is called the Canada 150. You’ll see them everywhere next year for our national 150th anniversary celebrations. They’re the red and white ones in a few of my shots here.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Suvi says:

    Amazing, I too am fascinated by the different species of tulips! I love tulips over all flowers and buy them all through Spring 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Holly says:

    Tulips are one of my favorite flowers, ever. I hate how short their season is, especially here. Thank you for sharing these!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. CarolynEliason says:

    So beautiful and a history lesson too! My favorite shot is the single yellow with a hint of red and frilly edges.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. What a great way to start my morning, Norm, with all this beauty and the history that’s so relevant just a day after the anniversary of D-Day. Thanks!


    Liked by 1 person

  24. Dan Antion says:

    Beautiful photos Norm. I’m going to go with that single blossom at the top, but they are all lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Would love to attend this festival after seeing your gorgeous photos. Thanks for letting me know about this event — and letting me see how you captured the essence.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. In my favourite book, “Sexing the Cherry” by Jeanette Winterson, there is talk about how the first tulip was smuggled from Turkey to the Netherlands. Let’s just say a girl pretending to be a boy did it. Yours are beautiful, my favourite photo is of the mix of purple, red and orange ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Oh my, my blood pressure just went up. 🙂 Gorgeous. I love the history of the tulips as well. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Ruth says:

    Lovely pics, and a really intersting history lesson – thanks Norm! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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