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 🙂