Abbotsford’s Tulip Festival has called Fraser Vallery it’s home for four years. Now, it’s time to move on. Organizers of the one-of-a-kind outdoor event announced that the Tulip Festival will be moving to the North Okanagan in the Armstrong area as of this year.
The Tulip Festival has been a staple of British Columbia culture for so long. Let’s look at where it came from…and where it’s going!
History of Abbotsford’s Tulip Festival
The Warmerdam family moved to Canada from the Netherlands in the 1950s, taking up residence in the Fraser Valley. Here, they put their horticultural knowledge and farming experience to work. A few acres of beautiful, blooming daffodil flowers were the result.
By 1974, Peter Warmerdam, the family patriarch, expanded into Abbotsford’s Sumas Prairie and began to plant and grow gladiolus. The family farm grew to include tulips, daffodils, and peonies soon after. Tulips and daffodils grew well in their greenhouse, too, making them available year-round.
Alexis Warmerdam, Peter’s granddaughter, came up with an idea: The Bloom Tulip Festival. Locals and tourists would be able to waltz through the vast tulip fields and bask in the vibrant colours while taking part in other outdoor activities, as well. And so, in the summer of 2016, the first Abbotsford’s Tulip Festival was born.
Tulip Festival Community Outreach
The Tulip Festival group, colloquially called Bloom, gives back to the community that supports them each and every year. The festival is a touchpoint between local volunteer groups, charities and interested boards, and the community at large. Bloom has donated $120,000 and counting back into the community in various ways so far. Armstrong and the North Okanagan will truly be lucky to have them.
The festival group has received several awards for their community work, including the 2017 UFV Young Distinguished Alumni Award, the 2016 Abbotsford Business Excellence Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and a 2017 Abbotsford Business Excellence Tourism Nominee.
Tulips 101: The Planting Lifecycle
Did you know: Tulip bulbs arrive in Canada from the Netherlands in Fall, just in time to start planting around October. Throughout the winter, the bulbs remain dormant; they are kept safe from damage by ensuring proper field drainage from any unwanted moisture.
Spring is harvest time; come April, the flowers are ready for harvest. Workers can harvest the tulips and bundle them, preparing them for sale and display. Plenty of tulips are left in the field, unpicked. These make up the basis of the Tulip Festival display.
A specialized tool removes petals from the tulip stem and allows the bulb to fully mature (yes—even after being picked!). Mid-May is when the bulbs should be fully bloomed and ready for distribution. Harvesting the full bulbs after 8 weeks (post-bloom) allows them to be cleaned, dried, and prepared for the next year’s replanting.
See You There
The Tulip Festival will bloom in the Northern Okanagan this year. Will we see you there?
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