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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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