The world’s largest tulip festival will spring into full blooms in Ontario this May for over a week. Over 300,000 tulips will bloom along Ottawa’s Rideau Canal and it’s free to enjoy. Here’s what to know about The Canadian Tulip Festival.

April showers really do bring May flowers – and lots of them!

For 11 days in May, starting May 10th, Ottawa’s Commissioners Park welcomes all to celebrate the seasonal flower’s beauty and its historic ties to Canada’s capital.

According to Ottawa Tourism, this is your chance to embrace the beauty of hundreds of thousands of bright and colourful tulips thanks to the Dutch government.

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Why? Well, the tradition all started in 1945, two years after Her Royal Highness, Princess Margriet was born in Ottawa. The Royal Family of the Kingdom of the Netherlands took refuge in Ottawa during the Second World War.

“Two years later, Canadian troops played a key role in liberating the Netherlands. In gratitude, the Dutch government has sent Canada a gift of tulip bulbs every year since 1945, inspiring what has become the Canadian Tulip Festival,” shared Ottawa Tourism.

Now Canadians celebrate the annual festival by embracing the tulips, learning its history, shopping for fresh cut flowers, crafts, art and more at the tulip boutique and enjoying lit garden beds and a blacklight boardwalk experience after dark.

You can also participate in ticketed guided tours in the day and spooky historical tales in the evening.

On top of all that, catch daily outdoor movies at 2 PM and 7:30 PM, including a new sound and light show every evening on the black light boardwalk starting at 9:15 PM. And yes, it is free too.

Photo via Canadian Tulip Festival

If you’re hungry, there will be Food Trucks open from 10 AM to 9 PM with festival favourites like popcorn, fudge and beavertails.

Check out the Tulip Palooza on May 18th from 5 PM to 10 PM where guests can party in a  “pollinator’s paradise” right at the York Street OTTAWA Letters.

“With a giant 8-foot-tall spring garden, with huge bees and butterflies glowing brightly in blacklight, guests will feel the flower funk with DJ performances and a street party,” shares the organizers of the Canadian Tulip Festival.

Stop by The Tulip Market where you’ll find regional artisans with tulip-themed treasures and a Tulip Boutique with official merchandise and souvenirs.

And as the festival nears its end, on May 19th, it will be capped off with a new 10-minute, 200-drone Drone Show right over Dow’s Lake, starting at 9:30 pm.

Looks like we’re making a trip to Ottawa this May.

The Canadian Tulip Festival

When: May 10th to 20th, 2024
Where: Ottawa Commissioners Park