While the saying goes that April showers are supposed to bring May flowers, the inhabitants of the Skagit Valley in Washington state celebrate the bounty of spring—or more specifically tulips—starting the first day of April. The world-renowned Skagit Valley Tulip Festival takes place all month long, and has boasted visitors from all 50 states and 93 foreign countries.
About the Skagit Valley
The Skagit Valley is located in the Northwestern corner of Washington State, named after the Skagit River that passes through it. They take their agriculture seriously here, producing more tulip, daffodil, and iris bulbs than any other county in the United States.
Tulip Festival Logistics
The festival is made to be driven through, so if you’re flying from out of town, be sure to rent a car. You can also bike through the area, if you prefer a more immersive experience. There isn’t one designated area for bloom-spotting; instead the fields and events are scattered throughout the Skagit Valley.
The two main fields are Roozengaarde and Tulip Town, and due to crop rotation, they are in different locations each year. Both charge admission, but offer free parking. The entire valley is filled with thousands of miles of blooms, though, so be sure to download the festival’s official brochure and map to know where to go. For the tech-savvy, the festival’s website also has an interactive map, complete with tulip fields, information centers, dining and lodging options, and other attractions. You can also book guided tours online—but they fill up early, so book in advance.
Technically, the tulips are supposed to bloom in April, but the weather dictates when this actually happens. But worry not! The festival has a real-time bloom map so you can get the most out of your trip.
Things to Do
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is about more than just tulips; it’s a celebration of the Skagit Valley in general, and there are many family-friendly events and activities planned throughout the area all month long. There many art galleries and shows on view all month. From the admission-free Art in a Pickle Barn gallery and gift shop to the fine-art-and-photography-centric ART BASH to the nearby Anacortes Quilt Walk, you’ll be sure to find something of interest.
If it’s something tasty you’re craving after a day spent tiptoeing through the tulips, you’d be remiss to miss the famous Kiwanis Salmon Barbecue (April 1-23, 11m-7pm daily). Depending on the size of your appetite, $12 or $15 will get you delicious barbecued salmon, with a baked potato, slaw, garlic bread, and ice cream. Best of all, part of the proceeds go to the local Boys & Girls Club.