Canadian Tulip Festival 2014 Highlights, May 9-19

[Press Release: Canadian Tulip Festival]

  • Eleven days of tulips, pageantry and festivities at Dow’s Lake, Ottawa.
  • New International Floral Fireworks program, opening with a special tribute to veterans, Friday night, May 9th, over Dow’s Lake.
  • New Cirque de Liberation attraction at Queen Juliana Park, Dow’s Lake.

More than half a million visitors are expected in the National Capital this May for the 62nd edition of the largest festival of its kind, featuring nearly a million tulip blooms in many varieties – a living legacy of international friendship between Canada and the Netherlands dating back to Canada’s lead role in the liberation of the Dutch people during WWII. Canada also provided safe refuge during the war for members of the Dutch Royal Family in Ottawa where Princess Margriet was born, the only royal personage ever born in North America. Each year, the Netherlands makes a gift of tulips to the people of Canada signifying this enduring, special relationship, and the National Capital celebrates its “royal” tulip legacy. The tulip has grown over time to become an international floral symbol of friendship, and it is the official flower of the City of Ottawa.

Where to view the tulips

The largest concentration of tulip blooms is in Commissioner’s Park beside Dow’s Lake, with more displays along the Tulip Route on Queen Elizabeth Drive and Parliament Hill as well as in Major’s Hill Park behind the Chateau Laurier Hotel beside Parliament Hill, and in Jacques Cartier Park across the Outaouais River in Gatineau. The National Capital Commission (NCC), the National Capital’s Official Gardener, plants and maintains the tulip beds, and provides detailed information on the tulips and viewing locations on its web site at under “Official Gardener”. The Canadian Tulip Festival, a non-profit charitable organization, organizes pageantry and programming at tulip time and features a “Tulip Meter” on its web site at showing the daily state of the tulips when they are in bloom.

Festival activities, venues and attractions

An extraordinary new International Floral Friendship Fireworks program has been made possible for Festival 2014 with assistance from the Government of Ontario under the Celebrate Ontario program. It will feature an extravaganza of music set to original fireworks creations over Dow’s Lake each night on May 9th, 14th and 17th, with a special tribute to veterans on opening night, May 9th. The three-night fireworks program this year is a spectacular advance showcase of international floral fireworks competitions planned as a recurring signature event each May, marking the National Capital’s reputation as a floral destination for visitors.

Cirque de Liberation, also new for 2014, takes place at Queen Juliana Park, named after Princess Margriet’s mother, and will feature giant topiaries, painted tulip sculptures, arts and crafts, plus old-world street performers and a midway – all reminiscent of the kind of spontaneous exuberance that arose immediately following the liberation of Europe at the end of WWII. Vintage military vehicles and actors in period costume will depict the liberation story and the Festival’s origins. Queen Juliana Park is also where visitors will find the Festival’s ever-popular international cultural displays of artisans’ works, plus performances of dance and music from many countries on the International Friendship Stage.

Artists in the Park will be creating, displaying and offering original floral paintings at the main tulip beds in Commissioner’s Park, in Queen Juliana Park, and alongside the historic Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Dow’s Lake Pavilion, across Queen Elizabeth Drive from Commissioner’s Park, will welcome visitors with tulip pageantry at the three restaurants overlooking Dow’s Lake, plus water activities at the Marina, artisan kiosks and live music as part of the Festival’s Capital Sounds program.

Capital Sounds features emerging musicians and bands from the region, a rich tradition that has introduced rising stars like Alanis Morissette at the outset of their careers. Visit the Festival website at tulip time for a complete list of artists and venues.

A Taste of Tulips offers special prix fixe menus at participating restaurants, with a full list of venues and locations on the Festival web site at tulip time.

Getting around

Transportation – A convenient hop-on hop-off shuttle service will operate each day during the Festival between downtown hotels and the main tulip beds and activities at Dow’s Lake, with stops in the Tulip Route Neighbourhoods of Little Italy and The Glebe. Routes and stops will be posted on the Festival web site a week before opening and maps will be available at the Dutch Kiosk, easily recognizable in Commissioner’s Park. For an eco-friendly fitness tour, the Festival’s Tulip Traxion program features self-guided biking, walking or jogging along the tulip viewing routes.

Accommodation – The Festival’s partner hotels include the historic Lord Elgin Hotel ( and Cartier Place Suite Hotel ( More information on accommodation and visitor services can be found at the Ottawa Tourism website (

For more information

During the Festival visitors can obtain detailed program information at the Dutch Kiosk in Commissioner’s Park including scheduled events, maps, and The Story of Canada’s Tulip Legacy. As the opening event of the National Capital’s Spring and Summer festival season The Canadian Tulip Festival will also have information at the Dutch Kiosk describing the many other festivals that make this region “Festival Capital”.

For more information on the Canadian Tulip Festival please visit or call (613) 567-5757.