Historical Highlights

A princess, whose royal family has been displaced by war, is born in Canada. In gratitude, a gift of Dutch tulips makes its way across the ocean, and the legacy of the Canadian Tulip Festival is created, celebrating international friendship through the symbol of the tulip since 1953. The Festival is now one of the largest events of its kind in the world attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors, and featuring millions of tulips in bloom across Ottawa-Gatineau.

1953 Canadian Tulip Festival is founded by The Ottawa Board of Trade, inspired by renowned photographer Malak Karsh, whose iconic photos of Ottawa’s tulip beds has brought international attention to the city.
1958 Prime Minister John Diefenbaker presides over the Opening Ceremonies.
1961 Prime Minister Diefenbaker, Governor-General Vanier and U.S. President John F. Kennedy meet for talks during Tulip Month.
1967 Queen Juliana of the Netherlands makes a royal visit to the Festival and opened it. She also unveiled the memorial to commemorate her gifts.
1968 Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau opens the Festival by cutting the tulip ribbon while chewing on the stem of a Golden Melody Tulip.
1970 Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the liberation of Holland, Dutch Canadians give Canada a 1500‑pipe concert organ.
1972 Liberace opens the Festival with a piano concert.
1987 Twelve-year-old Alanis Morissette, the Canadian-born International rock star debuts at the Canadian Tulip Festival.
1990 The Canadian Tulip Festival leads the establishment of international friendship gardens in 20 countries.
1992 Governor-General Ramon Hnatyshyn opens the Festival.
1993 A Tournament of Roses float from Pasadena, California, featuring the Rose Queen joins the Rideau Canal Flotilla.
1994 A Tribute to the Origin Country of the Tulip – Turkey – is celebrated at the Festival.
1995 Princess Margriet of the Netherlands returns to Ottawa to officially open the Festival, which celebrates the good relations between her country and Canada through the twin themes of “The Friendship That Flowered” and the 50th Anniversary of the liberation of Holland.
1996 More than 25 Carnivalers from the world-famous Carnival of Nice come to Ottawa to take part in the Canadian Tulip Festival’s “Floral Tribute To Nice”.
1997 The Festival celebrates the floral artistry of Japan with a spotlight on the Festival’s friendship partner, the Tonami Tulip Fair.
1998 A Celebration of Canada’s Provinces & Territories shares the gifts of the tulip and friendship with all of Canada. Entertainment from 27 festivals from across Canada is featured at the Festival.
1999 “Between Friends”, a celebration of the unique friendship between the United States and Canada has the Festival twinning with the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, and is one of the most successful festivals ever.
2000 “Tulips 2000 — A Capital Celebration!” is a special millennium floral showcase for floral designers around the world, and features the blooming of over two million additional tulips planted as part of the Millennium Tulip Challenge.
2001 “Tulips Forever! A Salute to Britain” is a celebration of Britain’s tulip history and world-renowned gardens. The program features a Tulip Twinning Ceremony between the Festival and the Spalding Flower Parade, Britain’s largest tulip festival.
2002 “Tulipmania! Tulips like you’ve never seen them before.” The Festival celebrates its 50th Anniversary with the creation of Tulipmania throughout the newly formed boundaries of the Cities of Ottawa and Gatineau. Tulip Summit Society hosts the Order of the Tulip official induction ceremony of all Ottawa Mayors and Ottawa Chamber of Commerce chairs present and past since 1953.
2003 “G’day Australia Tulips Down Under” celebrates the friendship and tulip connections
2004 The Festival celebrates Canada’s Tulip Experience by enhancing the experience with expansion of the Tulip Explosion, and introducing the Tulip Experience Passport.
2005 “A Celebration of Peace and Friendship” commemorates the 60th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the Gift of Tulips from the Dutch. Tributes to Veterans are highlighted by a visit from Princess Margriet and Tulips 2005, a friendship tour is undertaken across Canada. The Festival also celebrates the 150th Anniversary of the City of Ottawa with the inaugural Tulip Art Festival, and the opening of the new Canadian War Museum.
2005 The Tulip is proclaimed as Ottawa’s Official Flower at the Festival’s “(A) Celebration of Peace and Friendship”.
2006 “Tulips 2006 – World Flower Rendezvous!”
2007 “CelebrIDÉE – A Celebration of Ideas” The Festival welcomes the social commentary of Rick Mercer and Maragret Atwood among others
2008 “Where Ideas Bloom” – The Festival spreaker series continues with Sir Salman Rushdie, Wired Magazine’s Chris Anderson, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Guns, Germs and Steel Jared Diamond, and world-renowned pianist Angela Hewitt.
2009 “The Tulip Route”- The festival shines the spotlight on NCC tulip beds across the Capital
2010 “Liberation” celebrates the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Europe at the end of World War II.
2011 “Kaleidoscope” celbrates spring awakening through colour, culture and community.
2012 “60 years of Tulip Friendship”
2013 “Cirque de Liberation”
2014 “Floral Extravaganza”
2015 “Tulip Liberation” celebrates the 70th Anniversary of Liberation through colour, culture and community!
2016 Canadian Tulip Legacy unveils the commemorative Princess Tulip Sculpture now on permanent display at Ottawa’s Shaw Centre and the the Festival showcases the “Dutch-Canadian Friendship Tulip Garden” comprised of all red and white tulips.
2017 “One Tulip – One Canada” -The Festival’s 65th edition takes place during Canada’s 150th and The Offical Canada 150 Tulip, will bloom in National Capital Commission flower beds with thousands more blooming in community gardens across Canada.
2018 “One Tulip – One World”- say tuned for details

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