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You may have thought it was just a Dutch thing, but each year, Canada celebrates the spring tulip season with a magnificent display of over a million blooms. 

The festival signifies a special friendship between Canada and the Netherlands. 

During World War II,  the Dutch Royal Family was spirited out of the Netherlands to safe exile in Canada’s capital, Ottawa.  While they were here, Princess Juliana gave birth to daughter.  As a show of gratitude,  she presented to the people of Canada 100,000 tulip bulbs, and the family sends more every year.

The fields of flowers became so popular, it soon grew into a festival. 

This year’s festivities run from May 12- 22nd in Ottawa.  This year will celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday with plenty of the special Canadian flag tulips, and the 65th anniversary of the tulip festival.

Here’s why you shouldn’t miss it.

Discover Tulips 2.0

Tulip Festival, Ottawa

Tulip Festival, Ottawa

One thing you’ll discover at the tulip festival is that these flowers have really evolved over the years.  There are lots of the standard ones we know and love – – fields of them, in fact – – but tulips now come in a wide variety of shapes, colours and sizes.  You’ll see tall ones, fuzzy ones and interesting colour combinations.  Who knew?

Honour the History

Tulip Festival, Ottawa

In the final months of World War II, Canadian soldiers played a major role in liberating the Netherlands from Nazi occupation, and bringing food and relief to millions of people. 

The tulip season is also a time to remember their sacrifice. 

You can learn more about the liberation of the Netherlands at an encampment of vintage military vehicles on the weekend of May 20 – 21st at Lansdowne Park.

Get into the swing at the Cattle Castle:


In the spirit of the war time theme, you can kick up your heels to big band tunes at a swing dance on May 19th at the Aberdeen Pavilion in Ottawa.  Originally built in 1898, the restored building became known as the ‘Cattle Castle’ because it was used for agricultural exhibits.

There will be a number of events inside the Aberdeen Pavilion throughout the festival, something to keep the celebrations going in case of rain. That includes the Indoor Tulip Garden, over which the likeness of the Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix presides. Also, the Royal Canadian Mint will have a booth at Lansdowne Park where you can get the Canada 150 Coin Collection.  There’s a new silver coin that glows in the dark.

Tulip Festival, Ottawa

Beaver Tails!

Beaver Tails, Ottawa

A festival in Ottawa provides a good excuse for a Beaver Tail.  This is a delectable deep fried pastry – – essentially a flat donut – – with any number of toppings.  My favourite is the classic cinnamon & sugar.


No flowery celebration would be complete without fireworks, which will be fired from Lansdowne Park on the evenings of May 21st. 

Tiptoe through the tulips

Okay, so there are signs that prohibit tiptoeing through the tulips, but feel free to do so all around them. 

The gorgeous tulips are the star of this show, and taking in this floral bliss is bound to put a spring in your step.

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