The first tulip festival in Abbotsford since 2019 promises to be bigger than ever as it kicks off a summer of floral festivities in the Fraser Valley.
Spanning 27 acres along Marion Road, Lakeland Flowers will display more than 70 varieties of the spring blossom, including fringe tulips and double tulips, as well as a legacy tulip named after the farm’s founder, Peter Warmerdam, and released in 2018.
The event was the largest tulip festival in Canada when it was last held in 2019, but the pandemic nixed it in 2020 and then founder Alexis Szarek moved to Armstrong in 2021.
Now Szarek’s father, Nick Warmerdam, is reviving it as part of a new emphasis on agritourism following the Sumas floods of November 2021.
Lakeland Flowers was flooded out when the Sumas River breached the nearby dike. Warmerdam has since replanted but the farm’s commercial operation has not rebounded to its pre-flood level because of damage to its greenhouse operations.
Instead, Warmerdam has decided to focus more energy on agritourism.
“Initially, our plans were to host smaller crowds to enjoy the flower fields,” said Warmerdam. “After hearing how the crowds wished that Abbotsford still had a tulip festival, we decided to bring it back.”
The Abbotsford Tulip Festival began April 14 and runs until Mother’s Day. It’s the first of a series of flower festivals the farm will host over the next six months.
In addition to tulips, there are 20 acres of sunflowers and plats ranging in size from five to 10 acres featuring daffodils, blooming cover crops, hydrangea, peonies and lavender. All told, visitors will be able to experience more than 100 acres of flowers from now through Labour Day.
Further up the valley, the 17th annual Chilliwack Tulip Festival features 30 tulip varieties, 16 types of daffodils and five types of hyacinths on 20 acres. After the festival, Onos Greenhouses collects the bulbs and uses them in the farm’s greenhouse operation, which currently supplies 85% of the cut tulips sold in Western Canada.
“My family and I look forward to welcoming visitors to explore the colourful fields,” says Chilliwack festival founder Kate Onos-Gilbert. “Opening the festival each year truly feels like a celebration of spring.”
In Armstrong, Szarek is holding her second annual Bloom Tulip Festival from May 4 to 27 with 20 varieties of tulips on four acres.