Festival History

The godmother of all Ottawa festivals, since 1953 the Canadian Tulip Festival has been the iconic Canadian brand synonymous with the arrival of spring in the Nation’s Capital. Drawing over 600,000 Canadian and International visitors, we are the first outdoor festival of the warm-weather season, AND one of Ottawa’s largest and longest running signature celebrations, with as many visitors as Canada Day and Winterlude1.

For more than six decades the Canadian Tulip Festival has served as both a celebration and a remembrance of the Dutch gift of Tulips to Canada’s Capital.  During WWII, the Nazi Forces invaded the Netherlands prompting Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch royal family to flee the country in 1940. Her daughter, Princess Juliana, came to Canada with her husband Prince Bernhard, and daughters Princess Beatrix and Princess Irene.

The family stayed in Ottawa’s “Stornoway House” now the residence of the official Opposition. The then Princess Juliana gave birth to her daughter in the safety of Ottawa. Canada temporarily declared the maternity ward in Ottawa Civic Hospital to be extraterritorial so that the young Princess Margreit was born a Dutch citizen.  

All the while, Canadian soldiers bravely battled in Europe, leading the liberation of the Netherlands in 1945. In the final months of the Second World War, Canadian forces were given the important and deadly task of liberating the Netherlands from Nazi occupation. From September 1944 to April 1945, the First Canadian Army fought Nazi forces on the Scheldt estuary, opening the port of Antwerp for Allied use. The First Canadian Army then cleared northern and western Netherlands, allowing food and other relief to reach millions of desperate people. Air drops of food were coordinated by the Royal Canadian Air Force over Nazi-occupied Dutch territory in Operation Manna. Dutch Civilians wrote “Thank You Canadians!” on their rooftops in grateful response.

That same year, in gratitude, Princess Juliana gifted 100,000 tulip bulbs to Canadians for their role in liberating the Dutch and providing refuge for her family. The Netherlands has presented Canada with 20,000 bulbs every year since then, thereby creating the inspiration in 1953 for the very first Canadian Tulip Festival, a symbol of friendship between nations and a celebration of spring renewal in the National Capital Region.  

Founded by the Ottawa Board of Trade, the Canadian Tulip Festival was inspired by a suggestion from renowned photographer Malak Karsh, whose iconic photographs have forever immortalized the tulip. Beloved by generations, the Canadian Tulip Festival offers an unrivalled opportunity to reach the largest audience of any other single event in the city, and to align your brand with a piece of Ottawa’s history, and our future.

1 OBJ Book of Lists, 2018

↑ Buy Tulips Bulbs Now ↑

Liberation75 Tulip Bulbs

$15.00 CAD

The Liberation75 tulip is a early/mid blooming tulip in orange with beautiful pointed petals. They are coming directly from Holland and will arrive for distribution in late August. Shipments will start going out in early September.

Your Mission
To plant 1.1 million Liberation 75 tulips across the country, in honour of the 1.1 million Canadians who served during WWII.

Your Reward
1$ of Every Bag Purchased goes to the Royal Canadian Legion, supporting all those who have served our Country. The remainder of the funds raised will support the Canadian Tulip Festival in its ongoing mission to commemorate the role Canada played in the Second World War and more specifically in the liberation of the Netherlands.

Your Grand Prize
With every purchase of 15 Liberation75 Bulbs you will be entered to WIN 2 Tickets to Amsterdam from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines PLUS $2000 Cash!

Extra Chances to WIN!
Share your planting images on Facebook or Instagram using hashtag #PlantingLib75 and you receive another entry to WIN our Grand Prize. Share you blooming images using hashtag #BloomingLib75 for a total of 3 ENTRIES to WIN!