Washington. Family. Bright, gorgeous flowers. A hint of rain. These are a few of my favorite things, and I got to experience all of them at the same time at Washington State’s Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in April.
You may remember that I visited the Tulip Festival last year as well, accompanied by my mom and sister Michelle. We visited on the last day of the 2015 festival season, and the majority of the tulips had already been cleared away for the season. There were actually workers there cutting the heads off of healthy tulips as we walked around, catching the last colorful blooms at Roozengaarde, one of the biggest tulip sites.
This time around, Mom and I visited two weeks before the end of the season, and due to an early bloom, it seemed we might actually miss the bulk of the tulips this year as well. Talk about disappointing. We drove past fields of decapitated flowers, their green stems still waving in the wind, hearts sinking as we made our way toward Roozengaarde once more. I’d really been looking forward to seeing the tulips in all their glory, especially with all the photos cropping up on Instagram of cheery faces, a rainbow of flowers, and plenty of spring sunshine over Skagit Valley.
While most of the flowers had already died or been cleared away, we still saw way more than we did last year, and even visited a second site, Tulip Town, which had already been shuttered by the time we visited last year. I was so happy to finally see those endless rows of bright flowers, and nothing, not even the continuing drizzle over the fields, could dampen (heh) my excitement. Actually, I think the cloud cover made for better photos, and made the bright flowers stand out even more against their surroundings. What do you think?
After a good hour or so wandering around in the rain at Roozengaarde, we hopped back in the car and drove a few minutes to Tulip Town, where we found those beautiful rows of cheery flowers. And this is where my rain boots came in handy. Seriously.
If I’d worn ballet flats, my go-to shoe, they would have been ruined within minutes, not to mention I probably would have fallen on my ass and given my camera a nice mud bath. Even with boots, I had to step carefully to avoid slipping on my tour around the fields. As you can see, some of the flowers here had already been beheaded for the season, but it was still a sight unlike anything I’d ever seen before.
Pretty, no? And to think, we didn’t even see it on its prettiest, most colorful and sunshine-filled days. It looks like I will need to come back for a third visit next year…and who knows, maybe this time, I’ll get to write about it before the season ends! 😉
- The festival is spread out over several sites, and you’ll definitely need a car to visit. Maps, driving directions, and other information can be found online or at the Tulip Festival Administration Building in Mt. Vernon.
- Google directions to “Skagit Valley Tulip Festival,” lead to the admin building, not to any actual tulip sites. If you know exactly which sites you want to visit, however, you can access them by searching for those specific locations, ie “Tulip Town,” or “Roozengaarde.”
- Wear rain boots! Even if by some miracle you don’t encounter any mud or puddles, at least it will be easy to rinse all the dirt and grass off before you get back to the car. I used the outdoor sinks at Tulip Town to give my muddy boots a good rinse before we left for the day.
- Check the weather before you leave. Rain or shine, the tulip fields are a beautiful sight, but definitely dress for the weather. In this case, I wore a light scarf around my neck, and used it to protect my camera whenever the rain was too much. Boots, a light rain jacket, and an umbrella round out the perfect rainy-day tulip ensemble.
- Bring cash and check in advance which sites have an admission fee. Tulip Town cost $6 per person, for example, and was not equipped to accept credit or debit cards. The festival is a bit spread out and far from town, so finding an ATM could be a bit of hassle once you arrive.
- Looking for a unique souvenir from the Pacific Northwest? Did you fall in love with one specific bloom? You can bring the tulips home with you in the form of tulip bulbs, available at shops in the major festival sites.