Tulips are among the most beautiful flowers in the world. Can you imagine anything more magnificent than millions of tulips in every color imaginable, standing in rows with their graceful heads turned towards the sky in dignity? Even the coldest of heart cannot but stand in reverence of these regal flowers and let the occasional ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ escape from their lips.
Every year Canada pays a tribute to these glorious flowers with the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa. This festival is the largest of its kind, and with over five million tulips that flower every year, Ottawa is the uncontested tulip capital of the world. The Tulip Festival commences in the first week of March and lasts ten day to celebrate the time honored friendship and alliance between Canada and Holland.
During World War II, when Germany launched an attack on Holland in 1940, the royal family had to flee the country. They were provided political asylum in Canada and they stayed in the Government House. Here, in Ottawa, Princess Juliana gave birth to a daughter, Princess Margriet.
On her return to the Netherlands in 1945, Princess Juliana made a gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs to the Canadian government, as a sign of her gratitude. This beautiful tradition continued even after the death of Princess Juliana, and now, 20,000 tulip bulbs are given annually to Canada. These tulips are planted before the beginning of the Tulip festival and mark the beginning of spring
For those who just can’t seem to have enough of the tulips, there’s a designated Tulip Route that extends about twenty-five mile and winds its way through Ottawa and its suburbs. You can explore this route anyway you like – walk (if you can!), by car, bike, or on the Tulip Shuttles that takes you through all the major attractions en route. The most scenic part of this entire route is ‘The Loop’, a semi circle surrounded by tulips within which are Ottawa’s three most distinguished buildings – The Parliament Building, the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, and the American Embassy.
Usually, the Canadian Tulip Festival has a special theme every year. Some of the popular past themes have been “A Friendship that Flowered” which celebrated the relationship between Holland and Canada; “Turkish Tulip Tribute” to honor the land where these beautiful flowers were first cultivated; and “The Floral Artistry of Japan”, a tribute to the country that has perfected and popularized the art of arranging flowers with Ikebana.
Though the tulips are the star attraction of the festival, there are loads of other things to entertain the visitors. Concerts, a parade of flower-decked floats gliding down the Rideau Canal, floral competitions, and spectacular fireworks displays are just a few of the things that will have the visitors on their toes.