Tip toeing through the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa in 2023

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Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa - with over 1 million tulips
Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa

The Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa

At the end of April and for most of May you will be enchanted to see the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa. The National Capital Region (including Ottawa and Gateneau) displays over one million with over 100 varieties in 120 beds in 30 different locations.


Every year, Canada receives tulips from the people of The Netherlands as a thanks to our country.  During the second World War, Canada provided refuge to the Dutch Royal Family when the Germans took occupation The Netherlands.  In June 1940 Princess Juliana arrived in Canada after fleeing the invasion.  In tow were her daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Irene. 

In 1943 Princess Magriet was born in Ottawa.  She is the only Dutch Royal to be born in North America. {Interesting fact: the Ottawa Civic Hospital was declared extra-territorial so that the Princess would have solely Dutch nationality and not dual, which would have compromised her succession to the Dutch throne}.

The Royals remained in Canada for five years but upon their return, the Princess Juliana (who became Queen in 1948) sent 100,000 tulips in gratitude for the Canadian liberation of The Netherlands and for her stay in Canada.


The beautiful beds you see take between 12 – 18 months to plan. Each year, there is a test bed set out to see how hearty and resilient each variety is. The tulips are planted with early, id and late blooms in mind with different varieties and combinations to ensure approximately four weeks of display. Tulips are removed when they start to wilt. After the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa is done, annuals are planted in early just.

Once the summer blooms are done, in mid to late October all 120 beds with over 100 varieties of tulips are planted for the next year ‘bloom show’.

Tulip Route

Beginning in late April and continuing into May, close to one million tulips bloom in Ottawa and Gatineau. As the official gardener of Canada’s Capital, the NCC designs, plants and cares for tulips in the region. Since there are numberous sites, with over 100 varieties of tulips, in 120 beds across 30 sites.

map of the Canadian Tulip Fesitval in Ottawa
Click on the image for a direct link to the NCC Tulip Trail Map

When you come to the Canadian Tulip Festival (and I know you will), make sure to take advantage of the shuttle service thtake advantage of the shuttle service at runs from 9 am to 9 pm.  It runs between all the locations with over a dozen stops along the Tulip Route.

NCC’s Tulip Trail & Blooming Meter

In Commissioners Park on the bank of Dows Lake nearly 300,000 tulips in over 60 varieties are planted in 30 flower beds.

Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa - with over 30 locations 120 garden beds, 100 varieties of tulips
My mother in front of a tulip bed in 2015

The National Capital Commision (NCC) has a Tulip Trail and Blooming meter so you can track the best blooms of the season. Although there are 300,000 bulbs planted in Commisioners Park, there are also other tulip beds to visit on the Tulip Trail.

Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa - with over 30 locations 120 garden beds, 100 varieties of tulips
Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa –

Along the Rideau Canal – Commisioners Park

The iconic Rideau Canal corridor is also a must-visit during spring. Take a stroll or a spin on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway or the Rideau Canal Western Pathway to see the tulips — and catch some amazing sights. Also, this route connects two great places to see the tulips: Commissioners Park and downtown Ottawa.

Downtown Ottawa

Parliament Hill may be under construction, but there’s still a lot to see in the area. Major’s Hill Park, for example, is one of the best sites to see tulips blooming in the spring. To see more tulips, check out the planters along Confederation Boulevard and the displays at the National War Memorial. If you have time be sure and stop off at The National Gallery of Canada.

Downtown Gatineau

The Quebec side also boasts beautiful tulip displays. Areas planted near the Alexandra Bridge, Jacques-Cartier Park and the Canadian Museum of History are worth a visit. Besides the tulips, these destinations offer magnificent scenes of the river and Parliament Hill. Plus, they are within walking distance from Major’s Hill Park.

Dates & Hours

This year’s Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa will be held; May 12-22, 2023 from 9 am – 10:30 pm at Commissioners Park.

This festival also includes fireworks, concerts and cultural events.  There is also a lovely Royal Weekend when children dress up as Princesses and Knights.  With family friendly activities and crafts throughout the whole weekend. 

Festival extras

Tulip Legacy Walking Tours – 10am-6pm daily. $10 per person, children 12 and under are free. Tours run every 15 minutes. Saturday and Sunday virtual tours are offered for $5 per household.

Mini-Markets – 10am – 10pm daily. Enjoy a taste of the Parkdale and Byward Markets without leaving Festival grounds!

Movies and Tulips – Free movies will be available to view daily at Commissioners Park at Dow’s Lake with viewings from 2:00pm – 4:00pm and 7:30pm – 9:30pm. Audience members are encouraged to bring your own food and blanket, or purchase a Tulip Festival blanket and food from vendors on site.

Blacklight Boardwalk See the tulips in a whole new light! Enjoy the FREE Dow’s Lake Blacklight Boardwalk Experience, from 8:00pm – 10:00 pm nightly from May 12 – 22, 2023. Live DJs on the weekends add to the largest blacklight attraction in Ottawa.

Ghost of Glebe Walking Tour – Meeting place is in front of the HMCS Carleton building. Look for our Walking Tour flag. Tours are provided in English. Purchase your tickets in advance.

Sound & Light Show – Using light and sound hear the story of the  HMCS Haida, Canada’s “most fightingest ship” head to Dow’s Lake for a 10-minute show every night, from 9:15 pm to 9:25 pm, FREE to the public! Combining sound, light, and storytelling, we will create a stunning spectacle on the waves of Dow’s Lake for a 10-minute show every night, from 9:15 pm to 9:25 pm, FREE to the public!

Take a Tour

My daughter, mother and I enjoyed a full hour of touring the gardens and taking copious amounts of pictures that I posted on Instagram.  Here they are in all their glory.


Other Tulip Festivals

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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for DownshiftingPRO.com and other online media outlets.

7 thoughts on “Tip toeing through the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa in 2023”

  1. WOW! So beautiful! Our tulips just came up. I remember visiting Ottawa every year for the tulip festival when I was growing up in Montreal. So pretty!

  2. Oh M! These photos are breathtaking!! I never knew that story actually. I just know that I love the tulips there. I am always sad that tulips don;t last longer than they do each season. They are so very cheery.

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