The Canadian Tulip Festival
In 1945, 100,000 bulbs were gifted to Canada to thank our soldiers for their role in the liberation of the Netherlands. Another 20,000 came the following year (and each one since). The whole city celebrates this flower fest (May 3 to 20), from the gardens bursting with tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and other spring bulbs to the shops and restaurants. Commissioners Park plays host to the biggest displays with 300,000 bulbs.
Fairmont Château Laurier
1 Rideau St.
Stay in this historic hotel, officially opened by Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1912. A bike rental will help you navigate the gardens and take in the scenic views along the Rideau Canal. Enjoy tea and tulips—traditional English tea with a Canadian twist—in Zoé’s Lounge.
3. EAT & DRINK
Play Food & Wine
1 York St.
For a lively atmosphere, eclectic wine list and everchanging assortment of shareable plates, make a reservation and head to this ByWard Market-based restaurant. Play has a commitment to locally sourced ingredients, so you’ll be sure to find nature’s spring delicacies on the menu.
18 Clarence St. in the ByWard Market
Check out this sweet little flower shop that sources plants only from certified fair trade growers. Fresh-cut tulip arrangements are available to celebrate the festival, but bulbs (or a new garden accessory) might do better on the journey home.
The Mackenzie King Estate
Explore the grounds of William Lyon Mackenzie King’s summer home. Bring your walking shoes to explore the vast array of spring blooms, set among a collection of architectural ruins.
The most popular tulips at the festival are:
- ‘Canadian Liberator’
- ‘THE Mounties’
- ‘Pink Impression’
Illustration by Emilie Simpson, image courtesy of Ottawa Tourism