Canadian Tulip Festival Thrives Despite Rain, Crowds Flock to Commissioners Park

by Anna

Despite the rainy weather, the Canadian Tulip Festival has seen robust attendance during its opening weekend, according to Jo Riding, the executive director. She described the festival as “fantastic” so far, noting that while there were some showers during the opening ceremony, the rest of the day was pleasant. Even Mother’s Day, which started off rainy, ended with a beautiful afternoon.

The rain hasn’t discouraged visitors from flocking to Commissioners Park, where 300,000 tulips across 26 garden beds await admirers. Riding mentioned that there are over 100 varieties of tulips, and the flowers themselves seem to thrive in the wet weather.

“We’ve been lucky so far that most of the rain showers have not come with strong wind gusts,” Riding added. However, one event, the sound and light show, was canceled due to weather, and a generator had to be turned off temporarily when thunder and lightning approached.

Despite these minor setbacks, the festival has been bustling with activity, with the only complaint being the large crowds. Vendors have been busy, with one already selling out and needing to be replaced. Riding expects attendance to pick up again next weekend after a quieter start to the week.

The festival has also brought extra foot traffic to Little Italy, benefitting local restaurants and patios. Riding noted the high demand on Mother’s Day, mentioning her own difficulty in placing an order due to the restaurants being overwhelmed.

Looking ahead, the festival will conclude on Victoria Day, featuring a special UV-lit tulip garden event in the ByWard Market on Saturday. The closing ceremony on Sunday at Commissioners Park will include a candlelight vigil and a drone display honoring the Royal Canadian Air Force, with over 200 drones flying over Dow’s Lake.

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