Picture this: a clear, bright blue sky with yellow sunshine beaming down on your face. Fresh, earthy air, still crisp with the remnants of winter but tinged with the warmth and promise of summer. The cascade mountains overlook the surrounding fields in the distance, majestic and withstanding. Surrounding you are fields upon fields of vibrant tulips, reds, oranges, purples, pinks, lined up in neat rows. Fields of daffodils are mixed in with the brilliant tulips, like physical drops of sun growing from the ground.
Picture this and you are at the Tulip Festival. Well, maybe picture a few other people admiring the view as well, and possibly some clouds in the sky. It is the northwest after all.
Every year, thousands of people from all over Washington, and even all over America, flock to the vast, intensely colorful fields of tulips. Mount Vernon, Washington hosts the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival from April 1- April 30 each year, during which (hopefully) the tulips will bloom. What started in 1984 as a two-day festival has morphed into a 30-day long celebration of spring, filled with art displays, delicious food, and of course lots and lots of tulips. Visitors have the option of spending the day at either Tulip Town or Roozengaarde. There are also plenty of daffodil fields not affiliated with the Tulip Festival that are visible by car, but some are on private property and wandering through them is discouraged. And a little bit illegal. The official Tulip Festival website posts updates on the blooming of the flowers, so you can better plan your visit.
We visited Roozengaarde, which contained a concessions stand, a gift shop with tulips for purchase, and walking access to the fields and some smaller landscaped florals. From what I understand, Tulip Town offers different ticketing packages than a standard general admission ticket for wandering the fields. Tulip Town offers an “experience pass”, in which you are given a mini workshop and then escorted directly into the fields to pick your own bouquet of tulips, or you can buy a photography pass giving you access to the fields during peak picture hours (like sunrise and sunset).
This year due to covid, pre-selected time slots were required for ticketed entry. I think this helped with crowd control, as there were quite a few people there but nowhere near what I imagine crowds are like with no visiting restrictions. We visited on April 10, right when the tulips were really beginning to bloom but also at the end of the daffodil’s life spans. Tulips bloom dependent on the weather patterns, and typically will bloom sometime in that April time range. I noticed shockingly bright fields of yellow on my drive into work about mid-March, so I believe the daffodils bloom a bit earlier.
It truly was a stunning site, seeing row after row of such boldly colored flowers against the backdrop of the cascade mountains. When we visited there were fields of red, purple, and bright orange tulips in bloom, along with fields of yellow and white daffodils. There are walkways by and around the fields, so one could spend hours walking and admiring the views. We really enjoyed our time outside enjoying the weather and the gorgeous spectacle in front of us.
Tulip Festival is definitely a more touristy attraction, but it is worth the price. It is such a fun spring activity to welcome in the new season and get some time outdoors!