One of the best ways to celebrate the end of winter and the arrival of spring is to attend a flower festival. Although cherry blossoms get a lot of attention, there’s nothing quite like seeing entire fields of colorful tulips blooming.
While Washington DC may be known for its cherry blossoms, Washington state -- and in particular, Skagit Valley -- is known for its tulip fields. More than 400,000 people from about 80 countries and all 50 states attend the festival each year to see roughly hundreds of acres of tulips and an equal number of daffodils.
Where Is The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival?
Located in the northwestern part of Washington, Skagit Valley has the largest tulip fields in North America.
The area is easy to reach because it’s only 60 miles north of Seattle, adjacent to I-5. Skagit Valley is only 70 miles south of Vancouver, British Columbia. Either way, it’s a perfect destination for a day trip or longer stay.
Plus, Amtrak Cascades train service runs to Mount Vernon, the closest town.
When Is The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival?
The Tulip Festival runs the entire month of April, but there is no specific date for the flowers to bloom because it varies from year to year. Some years, tulips bloom the last week of March. Depending on the weather, they may bloom as late as the second week of April. What’s more, different varieties of tulips bloom at different times -- and daffodils bloom before tulips.
Fortunately, tulip festival organizers frequently update their website with a bloom update map to help visitors make travel plans. You can also check bloom status here, as well as by checking for updates on Facebook and Twitter.
Know Before You Go
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is intended as a driving tour, and there is no one location to visit. Although the fields are centrally located in the valley, they don’t have addresses, and their location changes each year as the crops are rotated. Plus, activities and events happen all over Skagit Valley.
All of this means you need to plan on using a map and consulting it frequently.
In terms of getting around, exploring Skagit Valley on foot can be a great deal of fun -- if you enjoy walking long distances. And, since many of the roads on the valley floor are flat, the walking isn’t strenuous.
Festival events take place all over the valley, so many of the fields, gardens, and attractions may actually be miles apart. Additionally, the weather in April can be unpredictable, so be prepared for rain and wind.
Exploring Skagit Valley by bicycle can also be fun -- especially since the roads are flat and easy to navigate. Since the weather in April can be unpredictable, be prepared for rain and wind.
As is the case with most large festivals, the least crowded times are early in the morning or late in the afternoon on weekdays. Weekends will be very busy, so if you’re planning to visit then, it’s best to arrive before 10 a.m. to beat the crowds.
Festival organizers point out that this is a rural area, so they suggest taking advantage of restrooms before making the trip to the valley. This is especially important considering that on busy days, it may take longer than expected to reach the tulip fields. They also explain that all visitor information centers have public restrooms, as does the transit station in downtown Mount Vernon. Furthermore, the Outlet Shoppes at Burlington offers another chance to use public restrooms.
While there will be flowers, it’s too soon to know if there will be restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Be sure to check here for safety measures as you plan your trip.