Who doesn’t love the colorful tulip fields – they are such an eye candy and provide great photographic opportunities! Here in Vancouver, we are within a day-trip driving distance from three places to see the tulip fields – Bloom in Abbotsford, Tulips of the Valley in Chilliwack, and Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in the Washington State.
Some practical information:
April is the month when these fields are usually in bloom. The exact time varies each year – this year (2017), for example, we had a very late start of spring, so some of these fields haven’t started blooming until mid-April. It can be muddy in the fields, so bring gumboots if you want to walk around. So many people forget to do that, and end up ruining their shoes and bring mud into their cars.
Bloom – Abbotsford Tulip Festival
Location: Abbotsford, BC
Driving Distance from Vancouver: 70 km
Admission: $15 online (Fri-Sun), $8 online (Mon-Thurs)
This festival is the closest to Vancouver, and therefore is very crowded on weekends. So crowded, in fact, that you won’t be able to take a picture without some stranger in it. I suggest going on a weekday evening, when it’s much less crowded, and the light is softer, which will make the colours in your pictures more vivid. I liked how they planted the tulips in narrow rows arranged by colour so that you can fit many colours in your pictures. They also had some interesting varieties such as dark purple tulips which I haven’t seen before. Unlike the other two places mentioned in this post, which are ultimately real farms where tulips are grown to eventually be harvested, this is purely a tourist attraction, but, hands down, it is exceptionally beautiful.
Me in full rain gear, including gum boots (bring them, don’t ruin your shoes!) Credit to my 6-year old son for taking the picture!
Gloomy weather makes the tulip colours especially bright
Tulip fields against the backdrop of Sumas Mountain
Tulips of the Valley
Location: Chilliwack, BC
Driving Distance from Vancouver: 82 km
Admission: $9 online, $10 on-site (cash only)
Tulips of the Valley is a new-ish festival run on a family-owned farm near Chilliwack. They’ve been growing tulips for 10 and have recently decided to open up the fields to visitors. When I visited on a rainy Saturday afternoon in mid-April, the fields were not crowded at all, which I really liked because I don’t want to have strangers in my pictures. The tulips are planted in stages, so different parts of the field are blooming while the festival is running. The scenery, with the colourful tulips against the backdrop of Mount Cheam looming in the distance, is breathtaking. They also have quite a few food trucks on site, and a covered picnic area to enjoy lunch out of the rain.
Did I mention breathtaking?
I recommend walking to the very end of the field, which will give you a view of the fields with Mount Cheam as backdrop.
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Location: between Mt Vernon and LaConner in Washington State
Driving Distance from Vancouver: 130 km
Admission: Free (but may have to pay for parking), or $7 USD if visiting Roozengaarde or Tulip Town
Skagit Valley is the furthest away, and the largest tulip festival in relative proximity to Vancouver. You will have to cross the border into the US, but I really recommend visiting. Skagit Valley fields are much bigger than what we have in Canada, and you can actually drive around them while taking in the unbelievable view of multi-coloured fields extending seemingly to the horizon. Parking is a challenge (all farm roads sport “No Parking” signs), but some farmers allow to park on their property for a fee. If you own a bicycle, you can leave your car in Mt Vernon or LaConner and cycle around the fields.
There are also two gardens, Roozengaarde and Tulip Town, that have displays of rare and interesting tulip varieties planted in display gardens, and provide access to the fields.
The ultimate working tulip fields. This is the real deal. Sunny weather admittingly a bit harsh on my pictures.
Tulip vistas galore.