This week’s journey takes me home to the beautiful Pacific Northwest for one of the region’s most beloved occasions: the Tulip Festival in Washington’s Skagit Valley. Each April, the valley – home to the largest tulip fields in North America – hosts a spectacular festival highlighting more than 350 acres of breathtaking spring blooms.
The festival is spread out across the valley (located approximately one hour north of Seattle), although most visitors find themselves concentrated in and around RoozenGaarde (also known as the Roozen Garden). Established in 1985 by the Roozen family – Dutch emigrants with six generations of successful bulb cultivation in Holland, and the owners of Tulips.com and the Washington Bulb Company – the garden hosts nearly half a million visitors each year during the festival. Each fall, approximately 300,000 spring-flowering bulbs are planted in RoozenGaarde’s three-acre display garden, producing a gorgeous exhibition of color during the early weeks of spring. The garden includes over 90 tulip varieties and over 150 flower varieties in total, including daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses and other specialty plants. A 25-acre tulip field and 22-acre daffodil field sit beside the display garden, as pictured below. Tulip Town – a smaller but no less spectacular collection of fields and display gardens, owned by the DeGoede family – is also open to visitors throughout the “bloom season” (dependent upon weather, but typically the entire month of April).
In addition to the Tulip Festival, the valley and surrounding area host a number of other seasonal fetes, including the La Conner Daffodil Festival (March), the Anacortes Spring Wine Festival (April) and the Skagit River Poetry Festival (May). Families with children will delight in tractor rides through the flower fields, marching in the Kiwanis Tulip Parade, and a visit to the local alpaca farm. Other activities – including whale watching tours, fishing charters, sea kayak rentals, farmer’s markets and visits to local breweries, wineries and distilleries – are also available throughout the spring.
Despite having lived in Washington for most of our lives, neither T. nor myself had ever visited the festival before my journey to the tulip fields and RoozenGaarde’s display garden in late April 2013. While T. originally intended to join me on this visit, he was struck down with a nasty illness and didn’t make the trip. Instead, I enjoyed the flowers – but greatly missed his company – with my parents.
Thank you for joining me on this adventure in the beautiful Skagit Valley! – B. June
Next week’s journey: Zaanse Schans – Netherlands