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Why You Should Visit The Canadian Tulip Festival #MyOttawa

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Every year, the Canadian Tulip Festival ushers in spring here in Ottawa. This year, it couldn’t come fast enough! After a very long winter, it seemed like Ottawa residents were especially happy to see the beautiful tulips this spring.

Maybe the long winter is the reason that I had an urge to visit the Canadian Tulip Festival myself – for the first time ever!

As Ottawa Mayor, Jim Watson, says ” Ranked the world’s largest tulip festival, the Canadian Tulip Festival offers festival-goers the opportunity to explore the colourful tulips in bloom, Dutch culture, an International Pavilion, Ikebana workshops, and be entertained by a diversity of music artists as well as captivating fireworks.”

While I always had a general understanding of the Canadian Tulip Festival, the Dutch connection, and why Ottawa becomes decorated in beautiful tulips each year, I never understood the detailed history behind the festival – until now.

“January 19, 1943, while in exile in Canada (after the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands), Princess Juliana gave birth to daughter Princess Margriet at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, which was temporarily declared extraterritorial by the Government of Canada, to ensure the princess would hold exclusively Dutch, rather than dual nationality. (The latter would have affected her status in the line of succession for the Dutch throne; Princess Margriet remains the only royal personage ever to be born within North America.) At the news of the princess’s birth, the Dutch flag was flown atop the Peace Tower and Dutch music rang out from its carillon.” Read More…

I love playing tourist in my own city when I get the chance. The Canadian Tulip Festival provided us with a great excuse to get outside one beautiful morning this week, get some much-needed exercise, and catch some stunning views at the same time, like this one from the grounds of the National Art Gallery overlooking Parliament Hill. In all my years in Ottawa I had never set foot a top this overlook.

Parliament Hill Ottawa Canada

A garden of Canada 150 Tulips awaited us at Major’s Hill Park, the area we chose for viewing some of Ottawa’s best tulip beds. This stunning tulip is, of course, the official tulip of Canada’s 150th Anniversary in 2017. A white tulip with red flames, the Canada 150 Tulip can be yours this fall when Home Hardware, the exclusive retailer of this special tulip, offers Canadians the chance to purchase Canada 150 Tulip bulbs for their spring 2017 gardens.

Canada 150 Tulip

Canada 150 Tulips

The Canadian Tulip Festival takes place in various gardens around Dow’s Lake, Lansdowne Park, Major’s Hill Park, and a couple of locations in Gatineau. We chose Major’s Hill Park for our tulip viewing as I wanted to be downtown, and had been wanting to explore this park for some time now.

Tulips in Major's Hill Park

Tulips at Major's Hill Park Ottawa

Part of what I love about exploring the tulip gardens in Major’s Hill Park are the photo ops that come along with being close to many of downtown Ottawa’s historic buildings. The spectacular Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica provides a beautiful backdrop to this tulip bed.

Tulip garden with view of church

While we didn’t get to experience the many festivities happening at the Canadian Tulip Festival, walking around this park full of tulips was such a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend some time on a beautiful morning.

Tulip Garden with view of National Art Gallery

Tulip at Canadian Tulip Festival

Since Parliament Hill is just a short walk from Major’s Hill Park, we decided to wander over and spend some time on the Hill. We found more beautiful Canada 150 tulips there.

Canada 150 Tulips on Parliament Hill

We enjoyed our walk around Parliament Hill. As always, there were many things going on, and lots to watch. A large group of dignitaries from India were wandering around, endless numbers of tourists with their smartphones and cameras, and various politicians getting in and out of vehicles at the steps to the Parliament building. A “people-watcher’s” dream! On the lawn in front of us was another sight to behold – hundreds of yoga enthusiasts taking part in Yoga on Parliament Hill (something I experienced last summer).

Tulips in front of Parliament Hill

I couldn’t resist one last tulip photo as I looked back at Parliament Hill. Then it was time to head over to the Byward Market for lunch at one of our favourite market eateries – Lowertown Brewery. We tried their Cold-Smoked Fish and Chips. If you love fish and chips you will probably love this menu item as much as we did. Of course we topped it off with an irresistible Lowertown Lager!

Whether you participate in the organized events and activities that are part of this festival, or you simply take time to take a stroll around one of the many tulip gardens, be sure to check out the Canadian Tulip Festival!






Disclosure: Canadian Blog House did not receive compensation for this post. All opinions are our own.





  1. June 30, 2016


    I grew up in Ottawa and now living away from there I miss the Tulip Festival. Thanks so much for the vicarious visit.

  2. May 26, 2016

    Linda Cassidy

    such perfect weather for it this year and I love the new Canadian Tulip

    • June 1, 2016


      It truly was, Linda! It wasn’t looking good for awhile there but the weather turned out perfectly during the festival. Me too…love the new tulip! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. May 25, 2016

    Emily Marie

    I visited the festival for the first time this year as well! I really enjoyed all the different colours and displays. It was also really nice to see so many people out and about to enjoy something that seems so simple: flowers. Loved every second!

    • May 25, 2016


      Glad you got to see the tulips too, Emily! That’s so true. I love how enjoyable something so simple as a Tulip Festival can be. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. May 21, 2016

    Julia Chiarella-Genoni

    Love this post, Sandy! I adore tulips and I love learning the history of the tulips festival. Thanks for sharing it and your beautiful pictures! Julia

    • May 22, 2016


      Thanks so much, Julia!! Tulips are so pretty – especially when there are so many of them in the huge gardens here. Appreciate you stopping by, Julia! Maybe next year you can come and enjoy the Tulip Festival in person!

  5. May 21, 2016


    Love the tulip photos. Trying to figure out why my camera is full of tulip photos from Copenhagen, when I could take great photos of tulips only a few hours travel from home 🙂

    • May 22, 2016


      Lol true! But then again, the tulips in Copenhagen would be nice to see also! Thanks for stopping by, Marilyn 🙂

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