The 66th edition of the Canadian Tulip Festival – one of the most colourful and popular festivals in Ottawa – is taking place May 11-21, 2018. With over one million tulips blooming across Canada’s Capital Region, the photography options are endless! Get your camera or smartphone ready and tiptoe through the tulips at these epic, photogenic hot spots.
The largest and most impressive displays of tulips are found at Commissioners Park, located near Dows Lake along the Rideau Canal. Stroll over 1 kilometre (over half a mile) of pathways that wind through large beds of multicoloured blooms. Each year, dozens of varieties of early, mid-season and late-blooming tulips are planted for maximum tulip enjoyment and incredible photography opportunities. Look for this year’s official tulip, the yellow Darwin Hybrids World Friendship Tulips and frame your shots to include some of the mature trees that pepper the park. Between the gardens, tours and animation (plus restaurants and facilities at Dows Lake Pavilion and in nearby Little Italy), you can easily spend an entire afternoon here!
Tip: Don’t miss the spectacular Victoria Weekend Fireworks show on the evening of Sunday, May 20 (weather permitting)!
Major’s Hill Park
With a spectacular view of Parliament Hill as your backdrop, the tulip gardens throughout Major’s Hill Park are not to be missed. Take postcard-perfect pics as you wander along the pathways between the Fairmont Château Laurier and the National Gallery of Canada. At the east end of Major’s Hill Park, you’ll find stunning winding gardens near the National Gallery. If you play with the angles, you can capture the Gallery’s beautiful architecture behind vibrant blooms.
Tip: Just below Major’s Hill Park is the historic ByWard Market area. Stroll around this vibrant neighbourhood and soak up urban tulip art while you explore boutiques, restaurants and cafés.
During the Tulip Festival, Lansdowne in the Glebe neighbourhood is a hub for tulip art, cultural experiences and family fun. Programming takes place indoors – notably in the historic Aberdeen Pavilion, a beautiful large-scale exhibition building from the 19th century – as well as outdoors. See entertaining performances on the Friendship Stage; browse tulip-inspired artwork and see artists in action; enjoy a glass of wine, craft beer and treats in the Tulip Café; attend events like the Mother’s Day Brunch or the Swing Dance night; walk amongst five-foot tall, hand painted tulips in the United Nations Tulip Friendship Garden. The photo opportunities are endless!
Tip: Did you know that tulips originated in Turkey and that they were first brought to Holland in the 16th century? Check out the Great Tulip Lawn, covered in a giant Turkish tulip carpet made of over 50,000 blooms.
Parliament of Canada
The most iconic spot in Ottawa for a postcard-worthy Tulip Festival pic is on Parliament Hill. Get up close to Centre Block and get a really low angle to snap a pic of the blooming tulips with the neo-gothic Peace Tower in the background. Perhaps try to get all those elements into a selfie?
Tip: Stop by on a Wednesday between noon and 1:00 p.m. and you’ll see hundreds of people doing yoga on the lawn in front of Parliament – another great photo opp (weather permitting)!
Along the Rideau Canal
The picturesque Rideau Canal – a UNESCO World Heritage site – is an ideal area to explore on foot or by bike. In fact, the Canadian Tulip Festival has created the Tulip Trail, a 20-minute stroll with trail markers, fun facts and animation, that takes you through residential and city gardens between Lansdowne and Commissioners Park. If you prefer to explore by bike, you can easily rent one or take a guided tour with Escape Bicycle Tours and Rentals. Ottawa’s extensive pathway network makes cycling a breeze!
Tip: Try to time your photo to capture a variety of activities along with the tulips. You might catch cyclists, runners or rollerbladers on the pathways, or kayakers, standup paddleboarders and other boaters on the Rideau Canal.
To maximize tulip viewing opportunities on busy weekends, the Tulip Festival provides a free shuttle bus service that links official sites. The fully accessible and free hop-on, hop-off Tulip Shuttle provided by Gray Line/Lady Dive travels between the ByWard Market, Lord Elgin Hotel, Lansdowne and Commissioners Park. Buses run on a regular 30-minute schedule on Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sundays, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Victoria Day (Monday, May 21), 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tip: Bring fully charged camera batteries and lots of space on your memory cards. Don’t underestimate how many photos you’ll want to take of the irresistible landscapes in the city!
To get the most out of your festival visit, see our page Different ways to experience the beautiful Tulip Festival in Ottawa. And share your favourite tulip moments with us on social media by using the hashtag #MyOttawa!