The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival starts Monday whether or not the star attractions are ready, as noted in the event’s subtitle, “Bloom dates according to Mother Nature.” No matter when the tulip fields bloom, there’s spring color and plenty to see and do throughout the Skagit Valley in April.
Daffodil fields are showing the most color now; tulip fields bloom at varying times throughout the month. The multi-acre flower fields are mostly in a 15-mile triangle bordered by Highway 20, the Skagit River and the Swinomish Channel, with updated information on what’s in bloom and where at www.tulips.com/bloommap.cfm.
The festival draws thousands of visitors from around the U.S. and the world every year, for good reason. RoozenGaarde/Washington Bulb Company is the largest flower- bulb grower in the U.S., with more than 1,000 acres of tulip, daffodil and iris fields in the Skagit Valley, owned by the Roozen family, tulip growers in Holland and the U.S. since the 1700s.
Display gardens at RoozenGaarde and Tulip Town provide colorful sights whether or not their adjacent fields are in bloom. Both places have gift shops and a large array of cut tulips to bring a bit of the festival home with you, and indoor flower displays, especially handy on rainy days.
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Their multi-acre tulip fields are open for walking; be sure to wear appropriate footwear, since they’re often muddy and slippery. The display gardens provide tidy, easy walks with up-close views of dozens of varieties of tulips and other flowers in bloom, and Tulip Town offers trolley rides through the fields for close-up views and photos.
Weekends are especially busy and traffic can get heavy on country roads. Weekdays and early morning or late afternoon on weekends are usually less crowded. Drive-by viewing of blooming fields is the best option in many areas where parking’s not available.
Parking is included with admission at RoozenGaarde and Tulip Town, and RoozenGaarde has designated parking areas near some of their other fields, accessible with paid admission to their display garden.
Skagit Valley attractions, many hosting special events during the festival, include nurseries, wineries, restaurants, shops, museums, art venues and more in La Conner, Mount Vernon and the surrounding area.
Festival events include the Tulip Run, April 6; La Conner Tulip Parade, April 13; Downtown Mount Vernon Street Fair, April 19-21; and Tulip Pedal bike ride, April 20. Tulip Town is dedicating a Veteran’s Memorial Garden on April 12, with free garden admission for veterans from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. .
Complete details are available online and from the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival office and several other information stations around the area.
Madeline McKenzie, mmckenzie @seattletimes.com