Fine Tuning the Tulips

*A Cat & Kate Collaboration Post…

Taking on The Tulip Festival

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the girls of inanutshell were a teeny tiny bit fed up with the miserable weather of this supposed Canadian spring (examples of whining: one, two, three..). So when the May 24 weekend decided to prove all the doomsdayers wrong and grace Ottawa with the most beautiful day of sunshine we’ve seen in 2011, these two nuts didn’t need much convincing to leave the house and enjoy the rays. Lucky for us, there was something interesting going on practically in our backyard…

The Canadian Tulip Festival (held a hop, skip and a jump away from our home) is the world’s largest tulip festival. Historically significant and aesthetically beautiful, it runs from the 6th – 23rd of May and attracts an astonishing amount of tourists to the capital every year. The tulips are a symbol of international friendship and for years have acted as a thank you from the Dutch for the role Canada played in helping free them during World War II.

Living in Ottawa most of our lives and not having really ever spent any substantial time at the festival, we thought inanutshell should see what all the tulip fuss is about…

What we concluded: renaming the event “The Strolling Festival” would be absolutely appropriate. The beautiful flowers undoubtedly set the backdrop for an amazing photo-op but other than that… there’s really not much else to do.

…lovely day for a stroll

Dows Lake Pavillion

As two twenty-something young females we almost felt like to blend into the bustling crowd we’d need to be pushing either a baby carriage or walker.

stroller to person ratio … 1:3

While making the rounds by Dows Lake we tried to put our finger on just what was missing from this acclaimed flower fiesta. In our opinion, it can be boiled down to one thing: Entertainment (or lack thereof).

The festival’s schedule, posted online, details a few community events mostly directed at the really old and the really young. Ex: The Kaleidoscope Community QUILT Project and LEGO® Community Garden.

One event we would have loved to attend had we known about it is “Yoga in the Tulips” guided by local instructors. However, being rain / cold dependent we wonder how many of these classes actually ran (your bad, Mother Nature).

More events like this would turn the somewhat mundane festival from a treat for the eyes to a treat for all.

No, I did not steal these. I made a donation to get a few of my own!

As true believers that anything that sways people to our Nation’s Capital, brings revenue to our lovely city and pays respect to Canada’s history, is something of substance, we also feel like the young adult demographic has been slightly overlooked here.

The following are suggestions for a tulip tune-up of sorts:

  1. MUSIC: Sure Bluesfest is right around the corner (thank goodness!) but jazzing up this festival with some tunes that aren’t solely high school bands and classical choirs would be appreciated. Spreading out on the grass to listen to some good Canadian music like these guys? Yes please. We’d call that an afternoon or evening worth attending.
  2. FASHION: Since as mentioned, the beautiful scenery makes for a great photo shoot, an outdoor fashion show makes for a very neat idea. It would allow some Ottawa area local designers to gain exposure and would draw a young, fresh crowd to the tulips!
  3.  FOOD: Like the piglets we are, we jumped on nabbing some popsicles as soon as we saw a stand. They were, however, one of the only kind of snacks available. An area with picnic tables and various vendors (think: Winterlude) would have been grand.
  4. BEVERAGE: Vodka. Lemonade. Stand…. Kidding! Well not really, that would probably be the best, especially after the small sweat we broke on our short tour. It’s not to say that we hope to completely ruin the docility of the festival with belligerent debauchery, but a beer tent off the beaten path would have swayed the hundreds of young patio goers on Saturday from the market to the gardens.


Mere suggestions to spruce up an event that already garners thousands of onlookers every year. The Tulip Festival may not hold a candle in our opinion to some other spring/summer highlights Ottawa has to offer (Hope Beach Volleyball Tournament, Bluesfest, Canada Day, etc.) but admittedly we still thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon in the sun, snapping photos and being silly, as always… in a nutshell.

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