A tale of two festivals: Ottawa celebrates spring
Published Friday, April 18, 2008 7:47PM EDT
As a new summer celebration of the Rideau Canal tries to gain its bearings, Ottawa's spring favourite, the Canadian Tulip Festival, is ready to bloom with the makings of another successful season.
While the flowers aren't out yet, the Canadian Tulip Festival's newest addition, a tent shipped from Belgium to house its indoor activites is already in place.
Tulip Festival about 'sunshine and flowers'
"For us, it's about sunshine and flowers, it's a big factor. One of the things we've tried to do by introducing our festival of ideas, Celebridee, is to de-risk a little bit the pressure that the weather presents," said Teri Kirk, Canadian Tulip Festival president.
The festival is in celebration of Princess Juliana of the Netherlands presenting Ottawa with 100,000 tulip bulbs in 1945 for offering a safe haven to members of Holland's exiled royal family during the Second World War.
But the Tulip Festival is no stranger to stormier times. It was forced to file for bankruptcy in October 2006 after several seasons of rainy weather and poor turnouts.
The new Tulip Festival plan is to bring the festival back to its roots by celebrating international friendship.
"I think the big risk came from putting on outdoor concerts and relying on admission and relying on weather. And I think that was the most difficult thing to do," said event director Julian Armour.
Now, it's back in full bloom for its start May 2.
Rideau Canal Festival
The newest event in line to draw the crowds is the Rideau Canal Festival.
Last summer, Ottawa's Rideau Canal joined the likes of the Egyptian Pyramids of Giza and New York's Statue of Liberty as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
"I'm saying, 'Wow we have a UNESCO World Heritage site and we're not celebrating it,'" said Rideau Canal Festival CEO, Michel Gauthier.
Organizers already have $300,000 from Ontario and have three months to lobby sponsors and other levels of government for the approximately $700,000 more they need to put on a world-class event.
"It won't be easy but there is a lot of energy in the community and a lot of people want it," Gautheir said.
The official start date for the very first Rideau Canal Festival is July 31, followed by a weekend celebrating the site's heritage, history and hopefully prosperous future.
With a report from CTV's John Hua