Not even a particularly wet spring day could keep floral fanatics from visiting the Chilliwack Tulip Festival, formerly the Tulips of the Valley Festival, on opening day April 10.
Ignoring the rain, visitors happily posed for photos in front of fields of flowers, an oversized tulip art installation and Instagram-worthy props spread across the oldest and largest tulip festival in Western Canada, which began in Agassiz in 2006 before moving to Chilliwack three years ago, making it even easier to visit from Vancouver.
The farm uses some of the most sophisticated planting equipment available, direct from Holland, which allows the farmers to plant extra wide tulip beds resulting in 40 per cent more flowers per acre then what’s typically grown. On average almost 7 million flowers bloom on the farm during the festival, which staggers its planting season so there’s always a rainbow of colour on display.
The festival’s grounds are easy to find off the highway and parking is free, so pack a picnic and make a day of it. There are also food trucks on site in case picnic packing just isn’t your thing and there are plenty of places to sit, both covered and in the open.
What to know before you go:
Dates and times
The “early bloom” event is on now through April 18 with daffodils and hyacinths.
The “tulip bloom” runs April 19 to May 5 with a possible extension.
You can find a schedule of what's expected to bloom, and when, on the festival's website.
The prices vary between events and are cheaper when purchased online, but run between $7 and $15 for adults depending on the bloom. Youth and seniors are $5 and children five and under are free. Visit the website for complete details.
How large is the festival?
The farm has added three acres of specialty peony-like double daffodils and two acres of hyacinths, making it almost 20 acres of flowers.
The Chilliwack Rotary Train runs alongside the fields, which is great for visitors with mobility issues. The train is included with the entry fee, but if it’s a nice day you’ll want to walk and remember, even if it’s not raining the fields can still be muddy.
Kid friendly activities
Lawn games when weather permits.
Colouring contests for kids 12 and under — in various age groups — with prizes given at end of festival.
A paper scavenger hunt, during which kids find answers to simple questions hidden around the fields.
Look for several fairy/elf houses, also hidden in the fields.
Lots of great photo ops for kids, parents and grandparents.
This year food trucks and trailers include Big Red Poutine, Dutchilicious, Querilla Q, New Taste Wraps, Mr. Donair, Mr. Hotdog and the Stroop Waffle stand — think fresh-baked caramel filled cookies Friday through Sundays. You’re also welcome to bring your own food, but the picnic tables and seats are reserved for guests who purchased their food from the festival.
There are portable toilets with handicap stalls and hand-washing stations.
See the World Friendship Tulip, chosen as a global symbol of peace.
Check out the tulip art and designs.
Story boards allow guests to learn the history of the farm.
The Festival Store where you can buy everything from tulip-shaped oven mitts to imported purses in the shape of — you guessed it — tulips.
Getting there from Vancouver
41310 Yale Road
Drive east on Highway One and about 10 minutes past the Whatcom Road exit you’ll spot the Tulips of the Valley signs to your right. Take the Yale Road exit.
Chilliwack Tulip Festival dos and don’ts
Don’t pick the flowers.
Don’t walk anywhere in the fields except the marked grass paths. The flowers are susceptible to disease and can be easily contaminated or broken.
Do bring your dog, but he/she must be on a leash.
Don’t smoke cigarettes or vapes.
Do wear appropriate footwear depending on the weather. Gum boots or good walking shoes/boots are the way to go rain or shine — the festival has disposable booties available for exceptionally wet days.
Don’t bring a drone. I mean seriously, just leave the drone at home.