By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: My aunt from Holland has flown in unexpectedly. I'd like to take her to see the tulips in Ottawa but don't know whether it's too late. Has it finished?

A: Imagine deep shades of crimson, sunny yellow and pearl white tulip heads dancing to the familiar spring breezes and then cast a smile as you inform your aunt that she'll view this scene in its full glory.

But you've only got a short window of opportunity. The 49th annual Canadian tulip festival ends this Monday. This year's event entitled, "Tulips Forever! A Salute to Britain" pays homage to Britain's tulip history as well as the arts and culture of the British Isles.

The magnificent floral pageantry had its roots started on an autumn day in 1945 when Princess Juliana of the Netherlands presented Ottawa with 100,000 tulip bulbs, a symbol of appreciation. Holland's exiled royal family was hosted at Government House in Ottawa. During their stay the medical staff at the Ottawa Civic Hospital assisted in the birth of baby Princess Margriet who later returned to Ottawa to officially open the festival in 1995.

Today, this festival easily is called the world's largest tulip festival and with good reason. Twenty sites from which to choose and 11 nights of concerts are part of this year's annual event.

On May 19, colourful illuminated boats will parade on Dows Lake, all part of the Casino de Hull Parade of Lights. Be sure to see some bright fireworks illuminate the sky. On May 20, there's the Clarica Flotilla on the Rideau Canal. Here, 75 decorated and animated boats will sail up and down, creating a parade of sorts. Pack a roll of film and prepare to snap some colourful photos of the floral beauties.

For more information, call 1.800.66TULIP.


Dispatches| Q&A | Photos | Fork | Compass Calls | Links | Search | Store | About | Contact | Home

All text & photos 2004.