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OTTAWA'S CANADIAN TULIP FESTIVAL

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The Canadian Tulip Festival is held in Ottawa, Ontario, every May. The event is the world's largest tulip festival, with more than three million tulips decorating the Ottawa and Gatineau regions.

Red tulips
Red tulips
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

What are the Canadian Tulip Festival 2017 dates? It runs from May 12 to 22 (Victoria Day).

Where to see the best tulips

Admission is free to Ottawa parks where you will see colorful tulip beds, including Parliament Hill, Commissioners Park at Dows Lake and Major's Hill Park (located between Parliament Hill and the ByWard Market neighbourhood).

Where are the tulip beds in Gatineau? They are located at Montcalm-Tache Park, Jacques Cartier Park and Malak's Bed garden near the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Where will you find the best tulips? Commissioners Park has 300,000 tulips, planted in 30 different beds.

Gardeners create works of art and messages with 60 varieties of tulips. One flower bed, for example, looks like a zebra pattern.

Ottawa hotel packages

Where is the best place to stay in Ottawa for the Canadian Tulip Festival? You can walk to most of the festival events if you stay in a centrally located hotel near the Byward Market or in Downtown Ottawa, near the Elgin Hotel.

How far is Downtown Ottawa from the Ottawa airport (code: YOW)? Driving time is 45 minutes.

The Ottawa Tourism website offers Tulip Celebration Packages in more than 40 hotels. You can create your own package by selecting the hotel and inclusions, such as museum tickets.

Tulips in flower bed
Tulips in flower bed
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Where to eat

Several restaurants offer Tulip Festival fixed-priced menus.

Where are the food trucks? These street food vendors are located in Tulip Plaza beside Ottawa City Hall. You can listen to free entertainment while eating.

Obama cookies

Do you know where to buy Obama cookies in Ottawa, while you are at the Canadian Tulip Festival?

Go to Le Moulin de Provence, located at 55 ByWard Market Square. US President Barack Obama stopped at the bakery during his February 2009 Ottawa visit to get some maple leaf-shaped cookies, decorated with red and white icing, for his daughters.

Tulip festival events

In addition to buskers and music performances, you will find entertainment at the International Friendship Stage in Commissioners Park, which features the cultures, music and foods of 30 countries. Admission is free.

For children, there are great places to take photos of your kids with tulip sculptures and a tea party topiary in Commissioners Park.

When are the fireworks at Dows Lake? Dates and time: May 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 9:30 pm.

A Canadian Tulip Festival map on the official website shows the location of events and Tulip Shuttle stops. How much do events cost? Most are free.

Yellow tulips
Yellow tulips
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Ottawa tulip festival history

Princess Juliana of the Netherlands gave 100,000 tulip bulbs to Canadians in the fall of 1945, after World War II ended. The tulips were a thank you to Canadian troops for liberating Holland from Nazi occupation and to Ottawa citizens for welcoming the Dutch Royal Family, who took refuge in Ottawa during the war. Princess Margriet, the younger sister of Queen Beatrix, was born in Ottawa.

The gift of tulips from Dutch royalty and the Dutch Bulb Growers Association continues every year.

How many tulips can you see? If you combine the 400,000 tulip bulbs planted by the National Capital Commission, every fall, and the tulips planted by Ottawa residents and businesses, there are more than one million tulips blooming in Ottawa every spring.

When is the Ottawa tulip season?

Tulips begin blooming in Ottawa in mid-April. Between May 8 and 17, a Tulip Express Shuttle (cost: $2) transports visitors from downtown to Commissioners and Lansdowne Parks.

A tulip route for bicycles takes cyclists 10 miles (16 kilometers) on a self-guided tour. Look for Tulip Treasure Hunt logos to find clues. Enter them in the online contest to win prizes.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Ottawa Tourism: www.ottawatourism.ca

Canadian Tulip Festival: www.tulipfestival.ca