By Tyler Davidson
Reed Travel Features
OTTAWA -- The capital of Canada will be beautified by 3 million
blooming tulips during the annual Canadian Tulip Festival May 9 to
The festival is rooted in history, tracing its beginnings to
1946, when Princess Juliana of the Netherlands presented the city
with 100,000 tulip bulbs to thank Canada for providing a safe haven
for her nation's exiled royal family during World War II (the royal
family still sends a gift of bulbs every year).
The people of Holland followed suit by sending private
contributions of bulbs to the capital, making the flower a symbol
of friendship between nations.
The Ottawa Board of Trade created the festival in 1951, and for
the past few years a different city or country that has contributed
to the cause of international friendship or floral culture has been
Japan's floral tradition will be honored during this year's
festival, with that country's Tonami Tulip Festival serving as a
conduit for the exchange of culture and flora between the two
Traditional Japanese music and craftwork also will be
Festivities will take place along a nine-mile Tulip Route
stretching along the Rideau Canal through the heart of the city and
across the Ottawa River to Hull, Quebec.
Festival-goers can ride a Tulip Shuttle Bus to any of the sites
along the Tulip Route. Walking, cycling or boat tours are other
Highlights include the Central Experimental Farm, a 600-acre
working farm in the center of town; Dows Lake, which will exhibit
hundreds of thousands of painstakingly ar-ranged tulips; a display
of 300,000 tulips in Commissioner's Park, which also will offer
breakfast, lunch, tea and music among the tulips; beds of tulips
gracing the terrace of Rideau Centre, which overlooks downtown; the
National Capital Marathon, and a friendship celebration that
features a carnival night, fireworks and Japanese floral displays
at Major's Hill Park.
Major tulip festival-themed events include:
* A showcase of international flowers, trees and plants at
Ottawa's Central Experimental Farm, held throughout the festival.
The farm also will host a sheep-shearing competition from May 17 to
* The Rideau Canal Flotilla, held on the waters of Dows Lake and
Rideau Canal during the day on May 18; a night flotilla featuring
fully illuminated boats will take place May 17.
* Japanese-style floral ar-rangements and an ikebana exhibition
will be held at the Canadian Museum of Nature May 14 through
Local tour planner A.B. See Tours is coordinating packages for
English-speaking groups of 30 or more participants. The firm's
packages range in price from about $5.50 per person for admission
to the masquerade Japanese Carnival Theme Night and Fireworks event
to approximately $110 per motorcoach for a two-and-a-half-hour city
A canal cruise package for about $7 per person and packages
featuring meals at festival sights also are available. Discounts on
most of the events are extended to groups that reserve the
approximately $9 per person Tulip Welcome Package.
For more information on group tours, contact A.B. See Tours at
(800) 383-9142; fax (800) 781-8840.
For general information about the Canadian Tulip Festival, call
The festival has a Web site at http://www.tulipfestival.ca.