Colours come out at Abbotsford Tulip Festival

After green start, warm weather has flowers starting to bloom in event's first year.

Abbotsford Tulip Festival owner Alexis Warmerdam says this week's weather has brought more flowers into bloom.

Abbotsford Tulip Festival owner Alexis Warmerdam says this week's weather has brought more flowers into bloom.

This week’s warm weather has arrived just in time for the organizers of the inaugural Abbotsford Tulip Festival.

Located on North Parallel Road just east of the Whatcom Road exit, the festival’s long-planned opening day arrived last weekend, before many of the 10 acres of tulips had bloomed.

But sunny weather and temperatures that neared 20 C prompted several varieties to bloom early in the week. Although there is still lots of green, by Thursday rows of yellow, orange, and multicoloured flowers were in bloom, while purple petals slowly pushed forth into the sun. By Thursday, about five per cent of the field was in bloom, with more flowers expected to open by the weekend, organizer Alexis Warmerdam says.

Of course, that is all weather-dependent.

“Unfortunately, Mother Nature is out of our control,” she said.

This is the first year for the festival, which will run through April until May 1. The Warmerdam family has been growing flowers on Sumas Prairie for 40 years and have been talking about holding an agri-tourism event for the past decade. Concrete plans for the festival began last year, with organizers securing permission from the Agricultural Land Commission to put gravel on an unused plot of land to be used for a parking lot. Organizers have added kids’ activities like a hay bale playground, sandbox and lawn games, along with a covered picnic area.

There are plans to grow the festival over the coming years, but the location of the tulips will move among five different 10-acre fields near the parking site, as the flowers grow best when they are rotated with other crops.

Despite the early lack of colour, Warmerdam said the response have been good so far.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” she said.”It’s exciting. Like any new event, we’ve learned a lot from the first five days we’ve been open.”

Admission costs $5, and early attendees were handed vouchers to return when the fields were blooming.

The tulips won’t all be blooming at the same time, and new flowers will come into colour throughout the festival’s five weeks. Once the flowers stop blooming, their bulbs will be harvested. For more, visit abbotsfordtulipfestival.ca