The Beautiful Tulip Festival in Ottawa
If you’ve never been to Ottawa for the Canadian Tulip Festival, this year would be the perfect time to add it to your 2016 bucket list. Taking place from May 12 to 23, 2016 this popular springtime festival – the largest of its kind in the WORLD – celebrates the Liberation of the Netherlands during the Second World War and the resulting gift of the tulips to Ottawa. But you might be wondering where these flowers came from? They are the result of a lasting relationship Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, shares with the Netherlands, which started in 1940. Today, more than one million tulips decorate downtown Ottawa each May and this lasting gift of tulips is known as the ‘Tulip Legacy.’
There are so many ways to experience the Tulip Festival! From downtown Ottawa, you can head out to explore the beautiful, multi-colored tulip beds on foot. Visit Major’s Hill Park, located behind the Fairmont Château Laurier, where you will find several beautiful flower beds as well as scenic views of the Ottawa River and the Parliament Buildings. From there, wander over to the Rideau Canal – Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site – and stroll along its scenic banks, which are lined with tulips in bloom. If you’re fond of walking, you can follow the paved pathways along the water that will lead you to Dows Lake and Commissioners Park, where you will find several flower beds filled with more than 300,000 tulips in bloom. Did you know that the festival puts 50 different varieties of tulips on display each year?
You can also cycle around Ottawa to see the tulip beds. Located just across the street from the Fairmont Château Laurier by the canal, RentABike offers adult and youth bikes for rent by the hour, the day or even by the week. Choose from a selection of more than 200 bikes that come with a helmet as well as a bike lock, and explore Ottawa to your heart’s content. Follow the route along the canal to see the tulips and then take time to experience some of the city’s other scenic pathways. Ottawa offers more than 600 kilometers (373 miles) of beautiful paths that link natural areas, parks, gardens and national historic sites.
During the day, the tulips are one of Ottawa’s main attractions. But at night, these delicate flowers close up to protect themselves from the cooler temperatures. So once the tulips go to bed, what is there to do?
Consider having dinner in Ottawa’s bustling downtown Byward Market neighborhood – home to many gourmet restaurants. Also, if you visit the Tulip Festival on the weekends of May 12 and 20, you won’t want to miss the fireworks display. The opening fireworks will take place at Lansdowne and then, the closing fireworks display will take place over the water at Dows Lake.
This festival has been a hit in Ottawa with adults and children alike for many years, as the bright flowers create the perfect backdrop for family photos or fun snapshots among friends. No matter what you do, make sure to bring your camera!