May 12-23, 2016
The Canadian Tulip Festival is a celebration founded on international friendship with the 1945 presentation of 100,000 tulip bulbs from Princess Juliana of the Netherlands to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, given in appreciation of the safe haven that members of Holland’s exiled royal family received during World War II in Ottawa and in recognition of the role which Canadian troops played in the liberation of the Netherlands.
The Canadian Tulip Festival is also a celebration of the return of spring, with over a million tulips in 50 varieties blooming in public spaces across the National Capital Region. The highest concentration of tulips can be viewed in the flower beds of Commissioners Park, on the banks of Dows Lake, where 300,000 flowers bloom. The National Capital Commission (NCC) manages more than 100 tulip beds at 30 different sites.
You can experience the festival at various sites throughout the city.
- The Canadian Tulip Festival is the largest of its kind in the world, attracting some 600,000 visitors annually.
- The first Canadian Tulip Festival was held in 1953 and led by the Ottawa Board of Trade, at the suggestion of world renowned photographer Malak Karsh. Karsh is considered the founder of the Festival and his photographs have immortalized the tulip.
- While in exile in Canada, Princess Juliana gave birth to a daughter, Princess Margriet. To mark the new princess’ birth, the Dutch flag was flown at the top of the Peace Tower. This is the only time a foreign flag has flown over Canada’s Parliament Buildings.
- Tulips in Ottawa have grown to become a symbol of peace, freedom and international friendship. Each year, the Dutch Royal Family and the Dutch Growers Association each send 10,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa.
- In 2001, the NCC dedicated a tulip bed to the late photographer Malak Karsh. This bed, located on a bank of the Ottawa River near the Canadian Museum of History, was planted with Karsh’s favourite tulips: Pink Impression and Golden Apeldoorn.
- New this year, the historic Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne will be home to the festival’s first ever indoor tulip garden! Lansdowne and the Aberdeen Pavilion will also serve as the 2016 Tulip Festival’s main concert venue, as well as the site of the opening fireworks on May 12.