The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Washington returns to the fields for the second year after going virtual in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those who want to get out and look at the brightly colored fields of flowers have until April 30 to do so. According to the festival website, during a “normal” year, folks from all 50 states and more than 85 foreign nations attend the festival. Visitors would be surprised to learn that it took years, more than a century, for the festival to find its rhythm.
Clicking a photograph is permitted, but drones are not allowed in the tulip gardens or fields.
The Tulip festival Washington is held in the Skagit Valley fields of Mount Vernon, a small town an hour’s drive from Seattle. Hundreds of thousands of people flock to the area to see the festival, which boasts well over one million blooming tulips and irises that last the entire month of April.
Every year, you can visit the tulip fields about 100 kilometers north of Seattle for free.
1. A Brief History
Tulips were not introduced to the United States until the mid-nineteenth century, and they were not introduced to Washington State until the late 1800s, thanks to a man named George Gibbs.
Gibbs, an English immigrant, arrived in the United States at the age of 17 and decided to settle on Orcas Island in Puget Sound. He originally planned to sprout apples and hazelnuts on 121 acres of land he leased for $10 per year in 1883.
But his plans changed when, in 1892, he decided to shake things up by purchasing a handful of flower bulbs for $5. Two years later, Gibbs dug up the bulbs and was astounded to discover that they had doubled. It was the first inkling of what would become the thriving bulb business in the Pacific Northwest, and Gibbs was very well aware of the opportunity.
Things got off to a good start. In 1899, Gibbs relocated his business to Bellingham, and with the assistance of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), he was able to import 15,000 Dutch seedlings to the Pacific Northwest. The Bellingham Tulip Festival debuted in 1920, after years of preparation.
Its early years were jam-packed with springtime entertainment, much like today’s festival, which includes a series of art shows, concerts, and collaborations with other community events such as the Kiwanis Salmon Barbecue and downtown Mount Vernon Street Fair.
The Bellingham Tulip Festival collaborated with Seattle and Vancouver to publicize a Pacific Northwest celebration, from boat races to a 5,000-person parade to the crowning of a Tulip Queen.
The Bellingham Tulip Festival, sadly, was short-lived. Between the Great Depression and bulb freezes in 1925 and 1929, the festival closed in 1930, and Gibbs relocated his bulbs to what would become their permanent home, Skagit County.
The downfall of the Bellingham Tulip Festival had no effect on the decades that followed. Bulb growers like RoozenGaarde and Tulip Town kept expanding, and people continued to celebrate spring with rainbow-colored flowers.
Finally, the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce founded the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in 1984. Over the last 30 years, the three-day festival has grown from five to seventeen to the current 30-day celebration of The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Washington.
2. Where is the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Washington held?
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Washington is located close to Interstate 5 about 60 miles north of Seattle, Washington, and 70 miles south of Vancouver, British Columbia.
Because millions of Skagit Valley tulips, as well as other flowers, are dispersed all over multiple fields through the Skagit Valley, there is no specific “site” to enter the festival.
Due to crop rotations, the fields are in multiple places each year, so the festival is intended as a driving tour.
On busy days, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Washington officials recommend that visitors stop in town to use public restrooms before heading to the tulip areas because “journeying from the I-5 exits towards the tulip area can take a fair amount of time.”
All tourist information facilities and the Mount Vernon Transit Station have public restrooms. The store at Burington is a perfect rest stop for all the travelers out there with lots of eateries, shopping outlets, and of course, public washrooms.
3. When is peak bloom?
Bloom dates vary “according to Mother Nature,” and peak bloom is weather dependent. As of April 7, the tulips have been blooming and the gardens are “looking very pretty.” With that said, more tulips are blooming every day. According to the website of the Tulip Festival, “The tulip bloom hasn’t reached its peak yet.”
The whole month of April is typically filled with tulips, and the bloom lasts as long as the environment allows—possibly into May. The Skagit Valley agriculture is worth visiting for sure!
Before visiting the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Washington, visitors should check the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival website and the multiple tulip gardens’ Facebook pages for the most up-to-date bloom information regarding tulip and daffodil fields.
The festival website also includes an interactive bloom map to help visitors plan their trip according to their own schedules.
4. Where can you visit?
In addition to the tulip fields, there are three gardens where visitors can stroll around and explore while watching the tulips bloom during the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Washington.
RoozenGaarde is a world-famous lawn with huge fields and over one million spring-flowering bulbs. A 30-acre tulip field, a 20-acre daffodil field, and a full-sized Dutch windmill are among the highlights of the flower lawn. Each year, the display lawn is hand-planted and redesigned, with over 200 flower variants on display.
Where to find it: Mount Vernon, Wa., at 15867 Beaver Marsh Rd.
Tulip Town has been a thriving boutique tulip farm for nearly 40 years. Due to geographical flooding during the planting season last fall, the farm has only about an acre of outside flowers to demonstrate its efforts.
Though Tulip Town may look a bit different this year, people can explore 10,000 square feet of indoor garden space “brimming with goods and gifts from area artisans” and “thousands of potted tulips for purchase.”
Where to find it: St. Mount Vernon, Wa., at 15002 Bradshaw Rd.
The latest member of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is Garden Rosalyn. The garden spans 13 acres and features six acres of tulips “planted in fun designs, such as stars, animals, and manicured beds.” Garden Rosalyn is the only one of the three that allows well-behaved, leashed dogs.
Where to find it: St. Mount Vernon, Washington, at 16648 Jungquist Rd.
Tulip Town and Garden of Rosalyn are only open during the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, whereas RoozenGaarde is open all year.
5. What families need to know
This year, you can purchase RoozenGaarde, Tulip Town, and Garden Rosalyn tickets online or at the gate. Farms, on the other hand, are trying to encourage tourists to buy tickets in advance for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
It helps a great deal with traffic control, as they discovered last year. Choose a day and time for your digital ticket, and remember that once you enter, you can stay there as long as you want to watch the tulips bloom.
The state has lifted the mask requirement this year, but pets and drones are still not permitted on farms.
To know more about what these tulip fields have to offer visit; Tulip Festival Washington.
6. Grab a bite if you’re hungry
Both farms sell food. Roozengaarde has a concession booth where you can get sandwiches, hot dogs, kettle maize, fudge, and other tasty treats.
Tulip Town has a café with corn dogs, broths, local frozen yogurt, specialty espresso drinks, and an adult beer and wine lawn.
If facilities are important to you, keep in mind that the farms have port-a-potties with hand-washing stations.
7. Parking situation
Parking is free at all three local display flowerbeds, but roadside parking in the fields is limited due to traffic rules and regulations and shoulder conditions. In some areas, paid parking is also available.
Weekends are the most popular times to visit the festival. Festival officials recommend that anyone traveling in a large group with multiple cars meet at a Park ‘n’ Ride location and carpool.
Hope you have a wonderful trip to these renowned flower fields in Washington. Tour the area, visit the quaint town of Mount Vernon, Padilla Bay, indulge in wine tasting and local treats, and hike or take a stroll around the local trails. Visiting Washington’s tulip festival is absolutely dreamy, and it tends to make for a fun and romantic open-air weekend getaway!