The Canadian Tulip Festival, Ottawa

Ottawa tulip festival

The Canadian Tulip Festival

Every May Ottawa hosts the Canadian Tulip Festival, a tradition that dates back to World War 2. After the German occupation of the Netherlands, the Dutch Royal Family had to flee the country. The Princess Juliana brought her daughters to Canada, where she also gave birth to a new daughter Princess Magriet. The Canadian government made the hospital where she was born temporarily extraterritorial, meaning that she would have solely Dutch nationality.

After returning home, the Princess Juliana showed her gratitude to the Canadian people by sending them a variety of gifts, one of which was over 100,000 tulip bulbs. Once she became Queen, Canada received further gifts of tulip bulbs every year for the rest of her reign.

Therefore from 1953 a Tulip Festival was organised to celebrate the start of Spring and also show off all of these beautiful flowers that Canada had received!

ottawa tulip festival 2
Ottawa Tulip Festival 1
Ottawa Tulip Festival 2

Shop the look:

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Exploring Ottawa

We took the Greyhound bus from Montréal to Ottawa in the morning, which only takes around 2 hours (super-close in Canada terms!). When we arrived we headed straight towards the tulips – the largest area of flower beds are located at Dow’s Lake but there are multiple beds of flowers all over the city. After a walk around this area (& plenty of photo-taking!) we grabbed some fresh lemonade from a stall and started to walk along the Rideau Canal towards the city centre.

The Rideau Canal is very long. It takes probably over an hour to walk the entire thing – so I’d highly recommend renting some bikes as it’s faster and on a hot day (like it was when we were there) it is far more pleasant!

Ottawa reminded me a lot of Montréal – despite being in the English-speaking province of Ontario, there was a lot of people speaking French. It is a small city (even though it’s the the capital of Canada!) so it doesn’t feel like a concrete jungle like Toronto or New York. We enjoyed walking along the canal, taking in all the beautiful houses next the water and eventually reaching the Parliament Hill to take a look at where the Canadian government congregates.

I had booked us into the Chateau Laurier for afternoon tea – which is just next to Parliament Hill. It was great to sit down in comfy chairs in their tea-lounge and enjoy endless cups of tea, delicious sandwiches, scones, cakes and a glass of champagne. I’d highly recommend it if you ever visit Ottawa – although do book in advance!

cherry blossom canada
cherry blossom canada 2

We came for the tulips, but the whole city seemed to be in bloom! There was beautiful cherry blossom everywhere so I took advantage of it by taking a fair few instagram snaps.

canadian houses of parliament
canadian houses of parliament 1

All in all, we had a really wonderful time in Ottawa. The Tulips were just absolutely beautiful – it’s quite an incredible sight to see so many in such a uniform way! I’d highly recommend visiting Ottawa in May just for that reason as the whole city is just rejuvenated after the harsh winter and ready for Spring.

It’s been over a month now since I returned from Canada and I just can’t believe it’s all over! However writing these posts makes it a little bit better, as I get to relive it all over again. I definitely want to return at some point next year though – so recommendations are welcome for anything I haven’t seen yet (which will be a lot as Canada is so damn big!).

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