Two years ago, Bobby and I traveled to The Netherlands specifically to see the famed tulip festival. Unfortunately, we were a little trigger happy and showed up a bit too early to see any blooms. Today, we made up for our disappointment by visiting the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival near Mount Vernon, Washington, about an hour and 20 minutes north of Seattle. While I am sad that Bobby couldn’t join me, both of my parents are in town and we thoroughly enjoyed the tulips together.
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is held every year from April 1 – 30, but this year, because the Pacific Northwest is experiencing a warmer than normal spring, the festival opened to the public a few weeks early. The festival is known for its hundreds of acres of tulip fields planted in regular rows, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that weeks before the tulips sprout, the public can view the valley’s daffodil fields. The festival is staffed by a group of over 1,400 volunteers from the community and is in its 32nd year of exhibition. Last year, festival visitors came from all 50 states and 85 countries.
The festival is set up to follow a driving tour, as the fields are scattered about the Skagit Valley. The tulip fields are the crops of RoozenGaarde/Washington Bulb Co., Inc. and Tulip Town and they are replanted/rotated with tens of millions of different bulbs each year to produce new designs. Both RoozenGaarde and Tulip Town have displays of tulips in gardens in addition to the fields for visitors to enjoy.
After viewing just one field (we were fascinated and stayed almost 2 hours!), we drove over and visited the RoozenGaarde, a manicured garden developed by the Roozen family. In total, the Roozen family farms nearly 1,000 acres of tulips, daffodils and iris bulbs. They also grow fresh cut tulips and other flowers in 15+ acres of greenhouses year round. Each year, the tulip festival display garden is redesigned and replanted with a new layout. Planting begins in early autumn and takes nearly 10 weeks and over 250,000 bulbs to complete.
Each year, an artist is chosen by a community panel to develop a tulip design and it is used as the official poster/magnet of the festival. This year, Pioneer Square (Seattle) artist Teresia Saia was selected. She created a breathtaking design of the tulip fields with dry pigment pastels. We added one more magnet to our collection.