Each spring, the capital of Canada transforms into a breathtaking floral wonderland filled with hundreds of thousands of tulips in every colour of the rainbow. Known as the Godmother of all Ottawa Festivals,’ the Canadian Tulip Festival is the first outdoor festival of the warm weather season, and maintains its position as the largest and longest running signature celebrations in the city.

In a typical year, the Canadian Tulip Festival draws over 600,000 Canadian and International visitors to the 30 public tulip gardens across Ottawa. Taking place online in 2021, from May 14 – 24, you can marvel at the beautiful flowers through the immersive virtual experience.

Canadian Tulip Festival History

The Canadian Tulip Festival celebrates the international symbol of friendship and peace: the tulip. The tradition dates back to 1953, when immediately after the Second World War, the Dutch presented the Royal gift of tulips to Canadians. Not only does the Festival commemorate Canada’s role in the liberation of the Netherlands and Europe, it also commemorates the birth of the only royal personage ever born in Canada, Dutch Princess Margriet.

The Netherlands keep the tradition alive by sending tulip bulbs to the Canadian capital each year. As the official gardener of Ottawa, the National Capital Commission (NCC) designs the beds and plants close to one million tulips for the annual Canadian Tulip Festival.

Top Tulip Spots in the Capital

It’s no secret that the top spot to admire the array of beautiful flowers during the Canadian Tulip Festival is Commissioners Park. Located alongside the Rideau Canal’s picturesque Dows Lake, the park is the major display site in the city, hosting over 100 varieties of tulips in 30 planting beds.

Major’s Hill Park is the second-most exceptional site to experience the Canadian Tulip Festival at. Here, the warm yellow, orange, pink and cream tulips are in close proximity to the scenic Ottawa River, and boost views of Parliament Hill, the National Gallery of Canada and the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica.

Immersive Virtual Experience

TulipTV will bring the tulips to you, with daily videos featuring garden news, musical performances, history, and other fun things. You can find TulipTV on YouTube or through the Canadian Tulip Festival website and browse through the videos available.

Better yet, head to the website between May 14 and 24 for a virtual walking tour with a live tour guide. Presented by Chartwell, the Virtual Tulip Legacy Garden Tour allows you to schedule a Zoom tour with one of their knowledgeable guides. During the virtual walk, you’ll learn about the history of the Festival while wandering through 27 gardens and see 130 types of tulips — all from the comfort of your own home.

You can also head on a digital stroll through the park with the Interactive Garden Map. Here, you’ll find photos of each type of tulip planted in Commissioners Park as well as information about the flowers, so you can learn as you go.

Bring the Canadian Tulip Festival Home

Flowers are — without a doubt — a great way to brighten your day. With delivery available as well as many curbside pick up locations across the city, you can order a bouquet of beautiful mixed tulips to bring the magic of the Canadian Tulip Festival home. You can also browse through the Tulip Boutique for handcrafted tulip-themed artwork, including woodwork, candles, and life-size ornamental copper dragonflies and butterflies.

Always follow Canada and local health authority COVID-19 guidelines for travelling or visiting attractions. Learn more about current restrictions and travelling within Canada.

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