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The Canadian Tulip Festival
Every year, when May arrives a colorful festival starts in Ottawa, ON. The Canadian Tulip Festival has been established back in 1953. It is an 18-day celebration that has been set to preserve the heritage of Canada’s role in liberating the Dutch during the Second World War. The country had provided safe harbor to the Dutch Royal Family during the German occupation of the Netherlands. The tulip bulbs are given as a gift in perpetuity to the Canadian people in remembrance to this event.
The Canadian Tulip Festival preserves this heritage and each year we celebrate with performers and numerous tulips blooming throughout the Capital of Canada. The most spectacular flowers can be viewed and photographed at Commissioners Park along the banks of Dows Lake. Nearly 300,000 tulips in 60 different varieties bloom there each year in over 30 flower beds.
History behind the festival
May 1940. The Nazis have invaded the Netherlands and the Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch Royal Family were sent in exile. In June of that year, a ship arrived in Halifax before proceeding to Ottawa. On that ship, Princess Juliana and her daughters Princess Beatrix and Princess Irene were on board. Mother and children were housed at the current official residence of the Leader of the Opposition – Stornoway. While in exile in Canada, Princess Juliana gave birth to a daughter – Princess Margriet – at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. The room was temporarily declared extraterritorial by the Governement of Canada in order to ensure that the newbord would be exclusively Dutch rather than having a dual nationality which could have affected her status in the line of succession for the Dutch thrown.
Five years later, the princesses left Canada to return to Netherlands. As a show of gratitude for her stay here and for the involvement of the Canadian’s soldiers in the liberation of Netherlands, Princess Juliana send 100,000 tulip bulbs. Since then the tulips have always attracted tourists and photographers from throughout the world. Today, you can find over 1 million bulbs blooming everywhere along the Tulip route.
What should I expect at The Canadian Tulip Festival?
The festival is more than just blooming flowers. The main tulip beds are located at Commissioners Park, Olympic Garden, Major’s Hill Park, Malak’s Bed, Jacques-Cartier Park, the Garden of the Provinces and Terriroties as well as Montcalm-Taché Park. The festival also offers events and activities for the whole family.
The Canadian Tulip Festival opens on May 3rd and closes on May 20th. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about the fact that Victoria Day is on May 20th and that long week-end is also the official opening of numerous camping sites through Ontario. Tulips are blooming through the month of May but your chances to see numerous ones would be during the second week-end of the festivities. Nevertheless, I think coming to Ottawa would allow you to discover a great festival offered on a yearly basis.
During the upcoming long week-end (May 17-20) , you will have the possibility to experience a Fire Jugglers Show in Little Italy (Preston St.), the Lake of Fire at Dows Lake which will display fireworks over the lake Capital Sounds at the Tulip Plaza, activities at the International Pavilion, The Great Canadian Tulip Treasure Hunt, Savour the Tulips which is gastronomic feasts offered by restaurants during the festival, and obviously photo opportunities with the tulips so don’t forget your camera! A shuttle is also available for visiting the various beds throughout the city.
So if you are looking to do something different this year as a mini-trip in Ontario, come and visit us in Ottawa and discover The Canadian Tulip Festival at the same time!
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