The Tulip Festival was officially launched at noon today. For the next 3 weekends, bands will be playing along the boardwalk at Commissioners Park and Dow’s Lake for visitor’s enjoyment, along with the thousands of tulips.
New this year, the Canadian Tulip Festival is offering a digital garden tour, complete with all the horticulture and heritage highlights that can be found in Commissioners Park through a mobile app. Guests are being encouraged to download the festival’s ‘Grow It Mobile App’ to enjoy a self-guided tour through the park. Attendees will also have the chance to win tickets to Alegria by Cirque du Soleil each day of the festival. And don’t miss the traditional Victoria Day Fireworks – Sunday, May 19, over Dow’s Lake.
The beginnings of the tulip festival can be traced back to the Second World War. In 1945, the Dutch royal family sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa in gratitude for Canadians having sheltered the future Queen Juliana and her family for the preceding three years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in the Second World War. The most noteworthy event during their time in Canada was the birth in 1943 of Princess Margriet at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. The maternity ward was temporarily declared to be extraterritorial by the Canadian government, thereby allowing Princess Margriet’s citizenship to be solely influenced by her mother’s Dutch citizenship.
In 1946, Juliana sent another 20,500 bulbs requesting that a display be created for the hospital, and promised to send 10,000 more bulbs each year. The Canadian Tulip Festival was established to celebrate the Royal gift of tulips from the Dutch to Canadians, as a symbol of international friendship.