Ottawa Tulip Festival

The Ottawa Tulip Festival, also known as the Canadian Tulip Festival, began with a gift of flowers from a grateful queen and has blossomed into an annual artistic event.

Some women love roses. I prefer tulips. That's why this festival is paradise on earth for me. I've participated twice and would love to make an annual trek if I could!

History of the Ottawa Tulip Festival

The Festival began with a gift of flowers. Well, a gift of flower BULBS, to be exact. And not just a few. Try 100,000 of them.

The year was 1945. The Second World War had just ended. A grateful Princess Juliana of the Netherlands presented Ottawa with 100,000 tulip bulbs, in thanks for the safe haven the Canadian government had given her family during the war and for the role Canadian troops had played in liberating Holland from the Nazis.

The flowers began to bloom, each year attracting more and more attention. Ottawa adopted the tulip as its official flower. In 1953, the city decided to host a festival to celebrate the annual blossoming of this gift. It's a special rite of spring not only for local citizens but for tourists who come from miles around.

Features of the festival

Today the festival, which takes place in downtown Ottawa every May, is about more than gardens. Although the flowers are still the main attraction, the event has branched out to include music concerts, art shows, food and handicraft tents, and public lectures. The concerts feature a broad range of music: pop, R and B, jazz, etc. There are even sporting events and lectures and panel discussions on social issues of the day.

The main events are held in Major's Hill Park, within walking distance of the Parliament Buildings and the National Gallery of Canada.

One of my favourite features of the festival is the parade of papier mache tulips decorated with different scenes.

Here's a close-up of one:

tulip sculpture

You can find more information about the festival at

You may enjoy:

National Gallery of Canada

Ottawa Museums

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