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, D.C., may be known for its cherry blossoms, Washington state — and in particular the Skagit Valley — is known for its tulip fields. Hundreds of thousands of people from more than 85 countries and all 50 states attend the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival each year to see 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 Interstate 5. Skagit Valley is only 70 miles south of Vancouver, British Columbia. Either way, it’s a perfect destination for a day trip or a 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 the best time to see the bloom varies from year to year. Some years, tulips bloom the last week of March. Depending on the weather, they might 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.
Pro Tip: Visit in March for the La Conner Daffodil Festival!
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. Exploring Skagit Valley on bicycles 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, and they suggest taking advantage of restrooms before making a trip to the valley. This is especially important considering that on busy days, it may take longer than expected to reach the tulip fields. All visitor information centers have public restrooms, as does the transit station in downtown Mount Vernon. Furthermore, The Shops at Burlington offer another chance to use public restrooms.