Hotpants, Olympic Flame, Candy Cane and World Friendship. These are just a few of the names of the nearly one million tulips now awakening at the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa. Now in its 66th year, the festival adds a burst of colour to more than 100 flower beds at 30 locations, including Parliament Hill, Major’s Hill Park, Commissioners Park and along the Rideau Canal’s pathways.
With deep historical roots to World War II, Canada’s connection to tulips ties to their support of the Netherlands and Princess Juliana, the only child of the Netherland’s Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Henry. Following the Nazi Invasion of the Netherlands in 1940, Princess Juliana took refuge at Rideau Hall in Ottawa along with her two daughters, two-and-a-half-year-old Princess Beatrix and nine-month-old Princess Irene. While in Ottawa, Princess Juliana gave birth to her third daughter, Princess Margriet. To ensure that the royal baby would have full Dutch citizenship, the Canadian government proclaimed the hospital’s maternity suite “extraterritorial,” allowing her daughter to legally succeed her.
As a token of her thanks to Canada, Princess Juliana donated 100,000 tulip bulbs to the City of Ottawa in 1945. Since then, the Netherlands has sent tulips to Canada each year as a lasting gift known as the “Tulip Legacy.”
Officially running from May 11 to 21, 2018, this year’s festival celebrates the theme “A World of Tulips, a World of Friendship.” To learn more about the Canadian Tulip Festival programming and history, visit the official event web site.
Here are a few highlights from this year’s festival.