Get ready for a riot of colour in Ottawa...
Spring is my favourite time of year in Ottawa and I know I'm not alone. Everyone has a huge grin on their face as they stroll! Everyone is always so excited to greet a new season and spend more time outdoors. And the best part of an Ottawa spring in undoubtedly the Canadian Tulip Festival. It's incredible to see the city scape explode in a riot of colour. Here are my favourite, most colourful things to experience at Tulip Fest.
The tulips themselves, of course!
I'm a huge fan of the classic colour combo of red and yellow but that's just the tip of the iceberg at the festival. There are whites and creams and lemons and apricots and corals and salmons and fuchsias and raspberries and eggplants and lilacs and lavenders - even black! And then there are stripes and streaks and edges and ruffles. At Dows Lake and Major's Hill Park, you can see the tulips in all their glory, in massive swaths of colour, rippling in the wind. There's nothing better than grabbing a lemonade from one of the vendors and taking a relaxing stroll through the park.
What a lot of people don't know is that there's more than just tulips on display. Keep an eye out for many shades, shapes, and styles of daffodils, and jonquils.
Believe it or not, the Canadian Tulip Festival is a celebration of friendship, not flowers. The Canadian Tulip Festival began as a celebration of the ties between Canada and The Netherlands. Members of the Dutch royal family were hosted and protected in Ottawa during World War II and, every year since, Canada has received a gift of tulip bulbs in everlasting thanks.
Today, the festival is a celebration of worldwide friendship and of cross cultural ties. The festival's International Friendship Stage showcases amazing cultural displays, music, and dance - all of which feature beautiful and colourful attire.
Sculpted to perfection
The Canadian Tulip Festival isn't just an event for tourist - locals are passionate about it as well! Everyone is eager to join into the festive spirit!So keep an eye out for large, colourful, painted wooden tulips in public spaces and in the doorways of local businesses. Take a careful look at some of the designs - I've even seen tulips with little cows painted on them!
In 2015, watch for the unveiling of a legacy sculpture, a huge bronze casting paying homage to the Dutch royal family and the Tulip Festival, that will call the Shaw Centre home. (PS: Did you know that the Shaw Centre was designed to look like the head of a tulip lying sideways? It's true!)
Dows Lake is home to more than just the radiant flowers - it's also the host of four nights of vibrant fireworks. Before the light show begins, I recommend having dinner (maybe on a patio!) on nearby Preston Street. Preston Street is home to Ottawa's Little Italy neighbourhood and it's colourful in reality and in spirit!
Ryan and I once set a goal to eat at every restaurant on Preston Street but had to give up after about two months because we realized we'd outgrow all of our clothing. Ryan's favourite treat is the meatball sub at The Prescott, while I like to splurge on the manicotti at Giovanni's.
If you prefer your noodles lo mein instead of linguine, nearby Somerset St. is home to Ottawa's Chinatown. Whichever neighbourhood you choose, you're guaranteed a great meal and fantastic people watching.
Laid back laughs
Nothing captures the warm, fun loving, infectious spirit of the Canadian Tulip Festival like all the opportunities to laugh. Street performers and buskers can be found in Commissioners Park. Children will love the tea party themed topiary in the park as well. If your entertainment tastes extend into the evening, there are diverse concerts in the park at night, offering everything from classical to rock. And then there's the food! Let's just say it's a good strategy to come with an empty stomach!
Everything is blooming in Ottawa.
Fantastic food, beautiful parks, tons of fun - this is at the heart of what I love most about Ottawa. And I hope it inspires you to come and explore the city I'm proud to call home!
I'd love to hear from you - have you ever traveled for a festival before? Where did you go and what did you do?
Love tulips? Here's some more floral inspiration:
The Golden Spruce of Norfolk County
21 Cozy Microadventures in Ottawa
Travel Memories Are Made When... I Explore the Great Outdoors
29/4/2015 01:30:40 am
So pretty. My family loves tulip season. Walking on Dows Lake and seeing all the variety.
29/4/2015 12:09:33 pm
Dows Lake is my favourite spot as well. I think they have the best variety of colors.
30/4/2015 04:40:35 am
I think your timing is perfect Leigh. Our tulips should just be coming into bloom then. Can't wait to see some of your pics!
30/4/2015 09:54:08 am
Coming from Europe I have to admit when I thought of tulips I thought of Holland, but since I've been in Canada I've been so impressed by the photos of the stunning tulip festivals and I REALLY want to visit one, so it makes sense that this is a symbol of the relationship between Holland and Canada. I'm collecting ideas for places to get a taste of Europe in Canada and this one is now high on my list!
30/4/2015 11:33:19 am
Ottawa is a fantastic place to experience a taste of Europe - even when Tulip Fest is over.
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