Rain is not dampening the flowers or the crowds, tulip festival organizer says

tulip festival

A little rain hasn’t slowed the Canadian Tulip Festival, which was busy as ever for its opening weekend, said executive director Jo Riding. 

“It has been a fantastic festival so far,” Riding told OBJ on Tuesday. “We were able to squeak out our opening ceremony with only a little bit of a shower and then the rest of the day was lovely. Mother’s Day had a rainy start with a gorgeous afternoon.”

The soggy weather hasn’t deterred crowds from stopping by Commissioners Park, where 300,000 tulips have been planted in 26 garden beds for visitors to admire throughout the event. Riding said there are over 100 varieties of tulips. 

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The flowers themselves tend to enjoy the wet weather, she said. 

“When it doesn’t hit too hard and it’s a nice sprinkling for the garden, they do love it,” she said. “Of course, when it’s torrential, with high winds, it will blow the petals off. We’ve been lucky so far, knock on wood, that most of the rain showers have not come with those big wind gusts.”

So far, the festival has only cancelled one event, the sound and light show, on Monday evening due to weather. Officials also had to turn off a generator for an hour that day when thunder and lightning rolled in a few kilometers away. 

Otherwise, the only complaint so far is that the crowd was too big. 

“We’ve been seeing a ton of visitors,” Riding said. “One of our vendors has already sold out and we’ve had to replace him with a new vendor … The weekend was incredibly busy, then of course, it’s typical that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday is a little bit quieter. We expect things to ramp up again next weekend.”

The activity has also been good for Little Italy, where restaurants and patios have been seeing extra foot traffic. 

“We always send our guests up the road where they can get themselves a fantastic meal,” said Riding. “They’ve been quite busy. I tried to order myself something on Mother’s Day to my base camp at the festival and I couldn’t get an order in because they were just too busy.”

The festival will wrap up on Victoria Day, with Riding expecting a strong turnout over the long weekend. Saturday will feature a special event in the ByWard Market, with a UV-lit tulip garden, featuring giant artificial flower gardens and displays, all of which are illuminated by UV light at night. 

The closing ceremony on Sunday at Commissioners Park will include a candlelight vigil and a special drone display honouring the RCAF, with more than 200 drones over Dow’s Lake. 

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