Thousands of tulips are blooming along Dows Lake and the Rideau Canal for the opening weekend of the Canadian Tulip Festival.

The popular festival is celebrating its 70th anniversary with events over the next 11 days at Commissioners Park.

"To say we're excited would be an understatement," festival executive director Jo Riding said about the return to in-person events for the first time since 2019.

The Canadian Tulip Festival celebrates the historic Royal gift of tulips from the Netherlands to Canada following the Second World War as a symbol of international friendship.

"The festival began because of the gift of tulips from a grateful Dutch country to all Canadians. During the war, Princess Juliana came to have a safe haven and she had her third child here," Riding said.

The Netherlands presented Ottawa with 100,000 tulip bulbs after the Second World War in gratitude for the city's hospitality, and the role Canadian forces played in Liberating the Netherlands.

Princess Margriet, who was born at the Ottawa Hospital in 1943, will officially open the Canadian Tulip Festival on Saturday at Commissioners Park.

Events at the Canadian Tulip Festival includes the Tulip Legacy Walking Tour, movies in the park, Tulip Bingo and a new night program called Tulips at Night.

"Right along Dows Lakes, we have 16 tulip planters all lit with UV light. The reason we do that is because that's how pollinators see the tulips," Riding said.

For more information on the Canadian Tulip Festival, visit