Every spring, the Ottawa tulip festival transforms the nation’s capital into the one of the world’s largest public tulip displays with more than one million blooms. The celebration started out as a gift from the Dutch people to Canadians for hosting the Dutch royal family during the Second World War and for Canada’s role in liberating the Netherlands. In the years since, it has become an annual tradition of international friendship.
Jo Riding, the executive director of the Canadian Tulip Festival (the event’s official name) believes it is important that the tradition continues, bringing moments of joy during the pandemic, as the original event did after the war. “It's always a surprise to me how much these tulips and their stories mean to people,” she says.
For its 69th anniversary this year, the Ottawa tulip festival will look different – but the show will go on, building on last year’s virtual‑only event. From May 14 to 24, 2021, Ottawa residents can look forward to seeing the flowers in person by way of a socially distanced strolling experience. Following Ottawa Public Health guidelines, attendees will be required to wear a mask, stay two metres apart and use hand sanitizing stations positioned throughout the grounds. Travel to the festival is discouraged, so national and international tulip‑lovers are asked to stay home and enjoy the Ottawa tulip festival through the many virtual experiences being offered this year.
Here are five ways to take in the season’s most magnificent tulips from anywhere you are: