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The Canadian Tulip Festival

Updated on July 5, 2015

Spring Really Blooms Each Year at The Canadian Tulip Festival!

The Canadian Tulip Festival (sometimes called the Ottawa Tulip Festival) has become the world's largest tulip festival and takes place in May each year with more than three million tulips in bloom. It runs for three weeks every spring and this year, Ottawa expects more than 500,000 people will visit to enjoy the flowers and all of the festival activities.

The tulip has become a symbol of the friendship between Holland and Canada. This friendship began more than fifty years ago when the Dutch people gave Ottawa a gift of tulips as a thank you for providing a safe haven to members of the Dutch Royal Family during the Second World War and for the part that Canadian soldiers played in helping to liberate Holland from the Nazis. Read more about the history of this enduring friendship at A Bloom of Friendship.

The gift of tulip bulbs has become a beloved tradition and today, the celebration is bigger and better than ever.

Click here to order this picture of the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa from Amazon.

Canadian Tulip Festival Video - This 2008 video will give you a general idea of what you might expect at the Canadian Tulip Festival.

Canadian Tulip Festival Themes

  • 1994 A Tribute to the Origin Country of the Tulip - Turkey
  • 1995 The Friendship That Flowered, the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Holland
  • 1996 Floral Tribute to Nice
  • 1997 Floral Artistry of Japan
  • 1998 A Celebration of Canada's Provinces and Territories
  • 1999 Between Friends
  • 2000 Tulips 2000: A Capital Celebration!
  • 2001 Tulips Forever! A Salute to Britain
  • 2002 Tulipmania! 50th Anniversary
  • 2003 G'day Australia - Tulips Down Under
  • 2004 Canada's Tulip Experience
  • 2005 A Celebration of Peace and Friendship
  • 2006 Tulips 2006 - World Flower Rendezvous!
  • 2007 Celebridée Celebration of Ideas inaugural year
  • 2008 Where Ideas Bloom
  • 2009 The Tulip Route
  • 2010 "Liberation" - The 65th anniversary of the liberation of Europe.
  • 2011 "Kaleidoscope" - A celebration of Spring awakening through colour, culture and community

World famous photographer Malak Karsh is widely know for his photographs of the tulips and was instrumental in the establishment of the Canadian tulip festival.


The Canadian Tulip Festival Concerts Helped Create Some Well Known Music Artists

Some of the artists who have performed at the Canadian Tulip Festival concerts include Liberace who performed an opening concert in 1972, Alanis Morissette who made her first appearance when she was just 12 year sold in 1987, The Trews who opened for Big Sugar in 2003 and General Rudie who performed early in their musical careers in 2000. These 'free' concerts were both entertaining and career building for budding new artists. They proved to be great exposure. However, the concerts have been difficult because of the unpredictability of springtime weather in Ottawa.

The music man shown in this picture by azzaelea was part of the fun but obviously not one of the concert performers!

President Barack Obama's Tulip

During the festival you can see the artist, Jill Alexander at work in the tulips downtown.

The Canadian Tulip Festival presented a very unique gift in the form of a 5 foot tall wooden tulip to President Obama on the occasion of his historic first visit to Canada on February 19, 2009. Large wooden tulips are a beautiful tradition of the festival. This one will represent President's Obama's messages -- Hope, Change, and Yes We Can. It will also have his face in profile and other national U.S. symbols on it. This particular tulip is the work of Canadian artist Jill Alexander.

Frommer's Ottawa
Frommer's Ottawa

Frommer's Ottawa - A Good Ottawa Travel Guide

I trust Frommer's for all of my trips so I feel comfortable recommending their Ottawa guide to you, although I have not seen it. This is the fifth edition.

Click here to order your Frommer's travel guide for Ottawa from Amazon.

Have you everseen the tulips at the Canadian Tulip Festival?

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    • JohnMichael2 profile image

      JohnMichael2 6 years ago

      I had visited Ottawa a couple of times and learned of this tradition. It would be nice to go back

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing about the festival....I'm leaving you a Lucky Leprechaun Blessing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      ~ Blessed by a Squidoo Angel of the Travel Canada neighbourhood ~

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Thank you Brenda ~ Blessed by a Squidoo Angel of the Travel Canada neighbourhood ~

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I love tulips too, a friend just gave me a bunch and I spent many happy hours taking photos of them. I believe the Royal Botanical Gardens here has a festival, I must make a note to go :)

    • Burningwoodarts profile image

      Burningwoodarts 7 years ago

      Very nice lense :)

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 7 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      I Love Tulips. They grow well in BC and it doesn't matter whether it's rainy or sunny! Happy Spring! :)

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      Lovely lens. I live in Vancouver, so visiting the Tulip Festival in Ottawa isn't something I can do easily I do go across the Us border to the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival quite often, though. Tulips are wonderful no matter where they grow.

    • LoKackl profile image

      LoKackl 7 years ago

      Yes, I Absolutely enjoyed my visit to the Canadian Tulip Festival! So nice to have wings to Squid Angel Bless this lens! Happy Springtime to you and yours. - From a yellow tulip.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      I absolutely adore tulips!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      I love tulips but they don't grow well here. It doesn't get cold enough in the winter. A Tulip Festival would be a lot of fun to visit.Thanks for sharingLizzy

    • triathlontraini1 profile image

      triathlontraini1 8 years ago

      Boy, there's so much history with Tulips! They are beautiful.

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Great lens, but you knew that :) Just wanted to remind you that this is featured on the The Netherlands Headquarters's now transformed into a lensography and I would love it if you could show your appreciation by featuring it here, or lensrolling it or something.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      This is beautiful. I would love to be able to attend this one year. Blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Wow! Your photos are beautiful :)

    • Christene-S profile image

      Christene-S 8 years ago

      Very nice lens :)

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I love a good festival, and I never realized there were so many TULIP festivals. I really like that big painting that artist is working on in the photo above. It would look great over my sofa. Lovely lens.

    • TopStyleTravel profile image

      TopStyleTravel 8 years ago

      Lovely lens on a glorious flower. Great pictures and info. The picture of the baby among the tulips is adorable.

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 8 years ago from Upstate, NY

      Our Albany Tulip festival was lovely this year...until the rains came. How was the weather for your Canadian Tulip Festival?

    • Tiddledeewinks LM profile image

      Tiddledeewinks LM 8 years ago

      Such bright colored tulips. Would be fun to tip toe through. The pic of the organ grinder reminds me of my lens about them.Check it out!

    • teamlane profile image

      teamlane 8 years ago

      Excellent lens Brenda. I've been going through the Local category and so far this is one of the best lenses I've had the opportunity to SquidAngel bless. Nice work! ~ Colleen :)

    • greenerme profile image

      greenerme 8 years ago

      Beautiful! I wish we had the time to head up to Canada, but I think it's going to be a year or two. I can't wait to see Quebec, PEI, Toronto, Montreal and New Brunswick... we're going to take at least a week to see all of it. Happy Spring!

    • lwhitelaw lm profile image

      lwhitelaw lm 8 years ago

      Beautiful lens - I stumbled accross it and had to comment since I love tulips and because I'm a fellow Canadian - though I've never been to the tulip festival in Ottawa.

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 8 years ago

      I love all the spring flowers and tulips are no exception...Beautiful lens - lensrolling you to my related lenses. :)

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

      I loved this lens because I live in a little Dutch town. We have several windmills and Holland Days is celebrated in May. Lots of tulip fields too. We didn't know it when we moved here but it turns out my husband is half Dutch.

    • encouragingwords profile image

      encouragingwords 9 years ago

      Beautiful lens; lensrolled at Easter and Spring Sentiments .

    • JanieceTobey profile image

      JanieceTobey 9 years ago

      Beautiful pictures! 5's! Maybe that one tulip is the RIGHT color... :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      What a beautiful lens and lovely tradition. I discovered you quite by accident, a happy one! It just wouldn't be spring without tulips and there are so many varieties these days to enjoy. I'm Tipi's sister and generally hang around her plot in squidooland, this was a pleasant side trip!

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 9 years ago from Covington, LA

      Beautiful lens. Oh, I wish that we could grow tulips as perennials instead of annuals down here in Louisiana. I do love them so, but they never come back the second year.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 9 years ago

      What a wonderful lens! I would love to visit Ottawa at tulip festival time. We have one not far from Victoria in Linden Washington in April. I just love tulips.

    • Adrienne Jenkins profile image

      Adrienne Jenkins 9 years ago

      Yes Oui Can!

    • profile image

      Tarra99 9 years ago

      Great pic of the Obama tulip!...thanks Brenda for visiting and commenting on my Obama in Ottawa lens...I appreciate it...since we're both in Ottawa we should get together for a Timmies one day :o)

    • Charlyjl profile image

      Charlyjl 9 years ago

      What a beautiful lens. The Tulips are beautiful... an inspiring lens.

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 9 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      It is really sad that I live so close to Ottawa but have not been. Every year something comes up and interferes. Nice to see another Canuck on Squidoo. :) I've lenrolled this lens to my 7 places to see in Canada before you die lens. And I've favorited so I can get the latest info. :)

    • squid-janices7 profile image

      squid-janices7 9 years ago

      Beautiful lens! A couple years ago, I made my first trip to Ottawa and was pleasantly surprised on just how lovely the town is ..... so combine that with tulips and it must be brilliant. I'd definitely love to go someday! Thanks for stopping by my Keukenhof Gardens Lens (

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 9 years ago

      This is a beautifully crafted lens, obviously put together with a lot of love! Thanks for sharing this special festival! 5*

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 9 years ago

      Very gorgeous, such wonderful flowers, I love them and that little child standing in the yellow tulips is so cute.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 9 years ago

      Lovely... This time of year always reminds me of tulips. I'm featuring this at All Things Travel!

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 9 years ago

      Poffertjes :) Very Dutch. Lovely lens.

    • hotbrain profile image

      hotbrain 9 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      Great lens! Thank you for visiting my lens about my trip to tulip town.

    • profile image

      bdkz 9 years ago

      What a beautiful lens Brenda!