Ab­bots­ford Tulip Fes­ti­val

Snowbirds & RV Travelers - - — British Columbia — - Words and pho­tos by Gor­don Baron

I was on hol­i­days driv­ing west on the Trans Canada High­way (Num­ber 1) from the town of Hope, roughly three kilo­me­tres be­fore the Ab­bots­ford city cen­ter turn off, when I no­ticed acres and acres of multi coloured flow­ers and bus loads of vis­i­tors walk­ing the fields. I took the next exit and fol­lowed North Par­al­lel Road to the park­ing lot. The huge park­ing lot was full, so I parked out on the street (North Par­al­lel Road) for a few min­utes. Look­ing at ten acres of tulips was stun­ning, some­thing I have only seen on TV be­fore this. I could not stop tak­ing pic­tures of the peo­ple, fam­i­lies and their pets around the tulips.

The founder of this mag­nif­i­cent event is Alexis Warmer­dam. Her grand­fa­ther, Peter Warmer­dam came from the Nether­lands and set­tled in the Fraser Val­ley in 1950. In 1974, Peter bought land on Su­mas Prairie in Ab­bots­ford, next to the Trans Canada High­way.

Alexis started this event to cel­e­brate the beauty of tulips and her Dutch her­itage, as well as her fam­ily’s hor­ti­cul­tural knowl­edge and farm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. This first an­nual event was over­whelm­ing for the Warmer­dams. Peo­ple stopped on the side of the free­way, mes­mer­ized by the field of flow­ers. The Tulip Fes­ti­val was very well or­ga­nized for adults, kids and their pets. They had food trucks, cov­ered pic­nic area, hay bale play­ground and a sand­box, on site flower mar­ket, and a U-Pick field to gather your own se­lec­tion of tulips.

Truck­loads of tulip bulbs are planted in Oc­to­ber; their spe­cial va­ri­ety bulbs are im­ported from the Nether­lands for the Ab­bots­ford Tulip Fes­ti­val. The ten acres of tulips are planted on a ro­ta­tion ba­sis, mean­ing they will not plant on the same field for five years. They have enough acreage on their prop­erty that the fes­ti­val will be held at the same lo­ca­tion ev­ery year.

Dates for 2017 are the 10th of April to the 7th of May. Go to their web site for details www.ab­bots­ford­tulipfes­ti­val.ca Try to plan your visit Mon­day to Fri­day, as on week­ends the crowds in­crease from 11,000 to 13,000 per day. It is rec­om­mended that you go onto their web­site to pur­chase tick­ets, and this is a must if you want tick­ets for week­ends and hol­i­days. Ticket price week­days from 9 am to dusk, Mon­day to Fri­day, is $8 for gen­eral ad­mis­sion, se­niors and kids are $5 and chil­dren un­der 3 are free. Prices in­crease on week­ends and hol­i­days. All prices in­clude park­ing.

The fes­ti­val spe­cial­izes in peo­ple want­ing the ul­ti­mate fam­ily photo op­por­tu­nity - in­clud­ing their pets. Lo­cal high schools in the area have made cutout photo boards in many dif­fer­ent themes. Sim­ply put your arms and head through the holes for fun and colour­ful im­ages.

From one hour be­fore sun­rise to 9 am, pho­tog­ra­phers come from across Canada and the USA to cap­ture the per­fect morn­ing light on the flow­ers and peo­ple. Ad­mis­sion rate for this is $15 from Mon­day to Fri­day (every­one is wel­come to take their own pho­tos). There are dif­fer­ent rates for this ser­vice on week­ends - check on line.

There is more fam­ily fun in Ab­bots­ford. Two kilo­me­ters west is Fam­ily Fun Park on North Par­al­lel Road, with mini-golf, go-carts, bumper cars, bowl­ing, and pin­ball.

In the heart of Ab­bots­ford, be­hind the Seven Oaks Shop­ping Cen­tre, is beau­ti­ful Mill Lake. The lake was orig­i­nally used for log­ging op­er­a­tions and had a sawmill. In the 1940’s, the Ab­bots­ford Lions club bought the prop­erty. They re­moved the build­ings and mill equip­ment, brought sand in for the beaches and planted grass around the lake turn­ing this into a pub­lic recre­ation area. Mill Lake Cen­ten­nial Park recre­ation area is 42 hectares sur­round­ing

by paved walk­ways, play­grounds, wildlife and a big pub­lic swim­ming pool at the west end of the lake. Lo­cals come to walk the trails and fish for rain­bow trout and large­mouth bass.

You can stay close by at the Roy­al­wood Golf and RV Re­sort, which is 15 min­utes east of the Ab­bots­ford Tulip Fes­ti­val trav­el­ling on the Trans Canada High­way. The 18-hole golf course has a restau­rant, driv­ing range and chip­ping green with 76 camp­ing sites. 30 and 50 amp power with full hookups and Wi-Fi avail­able.

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