Bursting blooms of color take center stage at these floral extravaganzas.
By Lowell and Kaye Christie, F47246
Spring is here, so that means the beginning of the flower festival season. Some of these events begin as early as March, but most are scheduled for April, May, and June. With so many festivals to pick from, we could only choose a few examples for this month’s column. Check locally “” there’s probably one within driving distance.
1. Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Northwest Washington
When spring arrives, Washington’s Skagit Valley bursts with color, especially around the towns of La Conner and Mount Vernon. Acres and acres of daffodils, tulips, irises, and lilies let visitors stand in awe of the pastoral beauty, take lots of photos, and enjoy the springtime festivities. Flower-viewing season begins in mid-March when the daffodils open their petals. April brings tulips into bloom. The Tulip Festival, which runs the entire month of April, features the Festival Street Fair, Tulip Parade, and even art shows honoring the tulip. According to the festival’s Web site, www.tulipfestival.org, the tulip viewing routes are motorhome-friendly.
2. Daffodil Festival And Floral Street Parade, Washington
This year marks the 75th anniversary of this four-city festival that takes place on April 12. The 26-mile Floral Street Parade winds through the cities of Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, and Orting, entertaining onlookers with people marching, bands playing, and lots and lots of flowers. Many of the people, floats, and horses will be blanketed with daffodils in honor of the season. The tradition started as a spring garden party near Sumner’s floral fields, but as the daffodils grew, so did the crowds and the traffic. Bring lawn chairs and umbrellas “” the parade goes on, rain or shine.
3. National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D.C.
Each year, thousands of people stand entranced by masses of cherry trees blooming in the city during this festival, which runs from March 29 through April 13. The trees were a gift from Japan nearly a century ago, and come April, they burst into their spring finery. The Festival Parade is a major activity in the city, drawing as many as 100,000 spectators. It steps off at 10:00 a.m. on April 12.
4. Cincinnati Flower Show, Cincinnati, Ohio
More than 50,000 visitors each year can’t be wrong. Each spring “” April 19 to 27 this year “” folks head to historic Coney Island to see this fantastic botanical exhibition. Visitors are treated to spectacular gardens; newly developed flower varieties; and delightful details, such as creative table settings and container gardens. This event was crowned the “king of all flower shows” by Better Homes and Gardens magazine.
5. Nantucket Island Daffodil Festival, Nantucket, Massachusetts
Imagine fields of daffodils as far as the eye can see. From early April to mid-May, 3 million daffodils in every color, shape, and size burst into bloom on this island. The festival (April 25 through 27) has become a celebration of winter easing out of the way so spring can arrive. Daffodils are everywhere “” along the island’s roadsides, in gardens, even the shop windows. The Daffodil Festival’s grand event held on Saturday (rain or shine) is the Antique Car Parade, featuring more than 100 antique vehicles . . . all covered with daffodils, of course.
6. Meriden Daffodil Festival, Meriden, Connecticut
Meriden’s largest and most colorful festival will celebrate spring for its 30th year on April 26 and 27 with a sea of fragrant yellow blossoms throughout 1,800-acre Hubbard Park. Visitors will see 61 varieties of daffodils and be treated to music from more than a dozen performers.
7. Lilac Festival, Rochester, New York
This has been lilac country for more than a century, so it’s not surprising that the Lilac Festival Parade is a biggie. There you can enjoy the drum and bugle corps, military and school marching bands, costumed characters, and views of everything and everybody decorated in lilacs. Add in an arts and crafts show, a wide variety of onstage musical performances, and there’s entertainment for everyone from May 9 through 18.
8. Lilac And Gardening Sunday At The Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont
Lilac and Gardening Sunday, May 18, is opening day for Shelburne Museum’s 2008 season. Wear comfortable shoes, for the museum provides walking tours of its collection of more than 400 lilac bushes. They’re spread across the museum’s 45 acres, but honestly, you don’t have to walk that far. When your feet start hurting, stop to check out the presentations offered by local gardening experts.
9. Waterton Wildflower Festival, Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada
Imagine a national park with several hundred wildflower species! Now picture those wildflowers blooming all around you, from the prairies to the peaks. Visitors certainly have plenty to see and do during this festival, which runs from June 14 through 23. For example, take a wildflower walk focused on identifying rare species. Or attend sessions on close-up and landscape photography, painting with watercolors, ethno botany, and more.
10. Stowe’s Annual Flower And Garden Festival, Stowe, Vermont
Whether you’re a daily or a weekend gardener, this festival, held June 27 through 29, is right for you. The point of the show is to teach visitors how to learn from a large variety of gardens by seeing how others did it. You’ll choose from around two dozen garden tours, ranging from private homes to resorts. One tour shows visitors which plants attract the most butterflies. Another demonstrates “intensive gardening” for people who live in small places. Some of the gardens can be walked through. Others would be great for bikers, and, of course, can be reached by driving.
11. Lompoc Valley Flower Festival, Lompoc, California
Go for the flowers and enjoy a parade, an arts and crafts show, food booths, and free entertainment. The Flower Festival Parade is on Saturday, but that’s just part of this five-day event, which runs from June 25 through 29. The festival is timed so that major commercial crops of flowers will be bursting into bloom. A relaxing drive on the back roads will give you dizzying, delightful views of flowers.
12. Newport Flower Show, Newport, Rhode Island
You’ll find plenty of variety at this flower show. View gorgeous arrangements, elaborate gardens, and free lectures and demonstrations. The setting isn’t half bad either. Rosecliff Mansion, one of the mansions that bring so many visitors to Newport, hosts the event. The name of this year’s flower show, June 27, 28, and 29, is “Explore! Botanical Passions.” Sounds like a winning opportunity.
13. South Carolina’s Flower Festivals
Finally, here are three fabulous opportunities to see South Carolina in full bloom. The Southern Plant & Flower Festival is part of the Pee Dee State Farmers Market in Florence, April 10 to 13. Next is Midland’s Plant & Flower Festival, in Columbia, April 17 to 20. Finally, the Greenville Plant & Flower Festival in Greenville runs May 1 to 4.