The last few Canadian Tulip Festivals were based on the concept of bringing the tulips into the City of Ottawa.
If you have ever been to the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa before, and you were able to take in the recent ones, then you will know that the newer versions were very, very different.
Yet, the 2016 version of the Ottawa Tulip Festival brings thousands and thousands of tulips to venues throughout Ottawa and Gatineau again.
The 2016 Tulip Festival in Ottawa & Gatineau
is from May 12 – 23
A Brief History of the Tulip Festival
And for those that don’t know, the history of the Tulip Festival is thus.
During the Second World War the Dutch Royal Family were guests of the Canadian people, staying at Government House in Ottawa while awaiting the end of hostilities in their own country. During their stay, Princess Margriet of the Dutch Royal Family was born at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. In order that the princess could be “born in her homeland”, the Canadian government had declared that part of the hospital Dutch soil.
In a gesture of thanks for providing shelter for Holland’s exiled royal family and also in recognition of the significant role played by Canadian troops in the liberation of the Netherlands, in 1945 Princess Juliana presented the Canadian people with a gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs.
The seeds (bulbs?) for the annual Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa were planted! The Tulip Festival that we have been enjoying each year in Ottawa actually began in 1953.
More Tulip Festival Changes
Due, apparently, to difficulties between the tulip festival organization and Ottawa’s NCC, many of the park venues around Ottawa that had been planted with tulips over the last few decades were not. In response, the tulip organization revamped the entire tulip festival concept in 2012, and part of that process was to move some of the tulips downtown! That change gives visitors a chance to see, among other things, Ottawa’s beautiful Byward Market with many of the heritage-type buildings in the area.
This video gives you a glimpse of the tulips and tulip displays in the Byward Market, downtown Ottawa, during the 2012 Canadian Tulip Festival.
Major’s Hill Park
Major’s Hill Park, right behind the Chateau Laurier, and adjacent to the Parliament Buildings has had lovely tulip displays for the Canadian Tulip Festival in the past. This is a beautiful park in downtown Ottawa, with stunning vistas of Parliament, the Ottawa River, and across the Ottawa River into Hull.
Dow’s Lake Tulips
Dow’s Lake has had beautiful tulip beds in the past. Recently, many of the tulip beds that were there in other years were gone; either planted with shrubs, or just grown over. I really missed “Tulip Central” which was normally at Dow’s Lake, with the many craft tents, information booths, lots of food offerings, something else for visitors to do and see when along with the gorgeous tulips around lovely Dow`s Lake. Will there be tulips at Dow`s Lake next year? Stay tuned!
Here is a brief video of Dow’s Lake Tulips in 2012.
And below is one of my favourite shots of Dow’s Lakes Tulips during the annual Tulip Festival in Ottawa.
Tulips Along City Streets
In seems that local merchants on a number of streets and avenues in Ottawa became more involved with the tulip festival.
The tulip planters all along Elgin Street were very enjoyable.
There were a good number of tulips along Sussex Street, in particular, the beds and photos of beds of tulips hanging on the fence of the American Embassy on Sussex were kind of neat. That was the only place in downtown Ottawa that I could find where you could get a glimpse of beds of tulips stretching as far as the eye could see, even though just in a photo.
In the special neighbourhoods in Ottawa, Little Italy and in Chinatown, there were some, apparently, half-hearted efforts to get into the spirit of the tulip festival, with tulips painted on some of the store windows. Though, if you did not know that the tulip festival was on, you could be forgiven for not noticing.
What to do About the Canadian Tulip Festival?
I do not know why the Tulip Festival underwent the changes it did from earlier iterations.
The Ottawa Tulip Festival brings in visitors from around the world. I would think, then, that the City of Ottawa would step up and arrange for every spare bit of grass on every city property in Ottawa was full of tulips for ensuing festivals. Too, is it not possible to patch up the issues regarding the tulips on NCC properties so that the dozens of magnificent tulip beds throughout Ottawa on the NCC property once again, delight visitors from Canada and around the world?
I Like The Newer Tulip Festival Too
The changes in the Tulip Festival in Ottawa could be disconcerting and off-putting to folks used to earlier versions. Yet, the idea of bringing the tulip festival more into the people-areas of the city is great as far as I am concerned, and, I am certainly looking forward to what the future tulip festivals will bring.
To make the festival in ensuing years even more successful than they have been in the past then tulip festival organizers, please, we need more tulips, not less!
More information about upcoming tulip festivals in Ottawa can be found at: http://tulipfestival.ca.