Weekend Highlight

Fields of colorful tulips draw fans from all over the world to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival through April in Mount Vernon and the surrounding area. Bloom dates vary through the month “according to Mother Nature,” along with a predictable schedule of festivities.

Fields of daffodils are in bloom now, with tulips showing more color every day. The Tulip Festival updates its online bloom calendar daily with a link on the festival home page, or directly at tulips.com/bloommap. Tulip fields are expected to be in full bloom around the middle of April.

The festival’s two main venues are RoozenGaarde and Tulip Town. Both welcome visitors daily and feature tulip fields and large display gardens with a variety of tulips and other spring flowers in bloom throughout the month. 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.

RoozenGaarde, named for the Roozen family — whose ancestors started farming tulips in Holland in the early 1700s — is the largest flower-bulb grower in North America, with more than 1,000 acres of tulip, daffodil and iris fields. Besides the display garden and adjacent 15-acre tulip field, there are cut tulips for sale and a chance to order bulbs for fall planting for blooms in your garden next spring.

Tulip Town, also owned by a family with Dutch heritage, has an indoor flower show to escape April showers, along with an outdoor display garden and fields to tour by trolley car, weather permitting. There’s also an indoor flower show, cut flowers, bulbs and gift shop.

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. Major festival events include the La Conner Tulip Parade, April 13; Downtown Mount Vernon Street Fair, April 19-21; and the Tulip Pedal bike ride, April 20. Information on all events is available at tulipfestival.org and in brochures available at the Tulip Festival Office and other locations.

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Weekends bring the largest number of visitors, slowing traffic on the mostly two-lane country roads to the tulip fields. The Tulip Festival Office in Mount Vernon is a great place to stop for information, and includes a display of U.S. and world maps that visitors mark to show how far they’ve traveled to see the tulips. As a reminder how lucky we are to be close enough to visit the Tulip Festival on a day trip, visitors traveled from 90 countries last year to admire the blooms.

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Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Tulip Festival Office: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through April, 311 W. Kincaid St., Mount Vernon; 360-428-5959 or tulipfestival.org

RoozenGaarde: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, 15867 Beaver Marsh Road, Mount Vernon; $10/weekends, $7/weekdays, ages 5 and younger free; tulips.com

Tulip Town: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, later if weather permits, 15002 Bradshaw Road, Mount Vernon; $10/weekends, $7/weekdays; $5/ages 6-11; ages 5 and younger free; 360-424-8152 or tuliptown.com