This year, my visit at the festival was VERY disappointing. It was more of a festival of unopened tulips!In the past, I have always visited the festival toward its end and many tulips were past their prime to say the least. This time, I wanted to see the tulips at their best so I had decided to visit more at the beginning (like four days after it had started). Considering that we had to coordinate the availability of three persons (my wife, my sister and myself) and that I had to request my day off weeks in advance, it left us with little choice and flexibility. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate at all. First, the late spring (it has been generally cold and rainy in the last month) delayed the growth of the tulips and the festival had to offer mostly unmatured flowers. Second, like last year, it was raining on the day of our visit!
According to the Ottawa Citizen, the organizers of the 67th annual Tulip Festival were saying that the “Visitors (…) didn’t seem deterred by warnings of later blooms.” The article, published after the opening week-end, explains: “The wet, cool spring has pushed back the tulip blooms. Glenn [Janna Glenn, a spokeswoman for the Tulip Festival] said the gardens are between 50 per cent and 60 per cent blooming right now. While that means the gardens might not be at their most stunning on opening weekend, there will still be blooms for visitors to see later into the festival, she said.” This is clearly false advertising since five days later, at best, 40% of the tulips were blooming. In this Trumpian era I understand that a spokesperson would lie to promote their event, but a respectable journalist should know better than to repeat and validate such blatant lie (but, hey, it’s the Ottawa Citizen… unprofessionally hiding the truth in order to favour a profitable event and please the local merchants association is really not beyond them!)
My main complain (beside the weather, obviously) is that many varieties of tulips are mixed inside each flowers beds (to make nice, colourful arrangements) and the identification tags are spread along the beds in a manner that makes it impossible to know which flower goes with each tag. Therefore we cannot know the name of each tulips for sure. This problem seems to have always plagued the festival. I am sure it could be possible to make labeling tags that include a small picture of the tulip so it could easily be identified in the flower bed — or at least provide a brochure that list all the tulips displayed with a picture and a small description. It would be so much nicer to be able to name each tulip (particularly when you take pictures) — without having to spend hours afterward googling each one!
Anyway, even if I took less pictures than in the previous years, we found ways to make the visit interesting despite the disappointment (and deception). There was still some tulips to be enjoyed (even if many had not bloomed) so it was not a total waste of time (although taking a six hours trip — roughly three hours of driving to go and three hours to come back — for a three hours visit is certainly not an optimum use of my time; but the landscape on the way [flooded in some places] was interesting to look at and I had made a good playlist of classic French pop songs to listen to on the way)…
The 67th edition of the Ottawa Tulip Festival is centred on only one venue: the Commissioners Park near Dows Lake. The park’s 30 flower beds are offering more than 250,000 tulips to enjoy. There is also many other activities like the Tulip legacy walking tour, or visiting the Tulip Plaza’s marketplace, or the Heritage pavillon with its Canadian Tulip Festival Museum, etc. The festival, which was established to celebrate the historic Royal gift of tulips from the Dutch to Canadians in the wake of the Second World War, is held until May 20th.
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