The Canadian Tulip Festival is back for its first in person event in two years and a very special guest will be in attendance.

Over the course of the next two weeks, she and tens of thousands of tourists will be able to come to the Tulip Festival, in person.

“We are back in person for our 70th birthday,” says the festival’s executive director, Jo Riding. “Our platinum jubilee.”

And royalty will be among the attendees.

Princess Margriet of the Netherlands will attend the Tulip Festival this year. Margriet was born in Ottawa in 1943, at a time when the Dutch royal family was offered safe haven in the capital during the Second World War. Ever since, the tulips have symbolized the relationship between the two countries.

The National Capital Commission plants a million tulips all across the capital, but Commissioners Park is the place to be this weekend.

“Here at the festival site in Commissioners Park, we have the most concentration of stems,” says Riding. “We have 300,000 stems in the park over 26 beds. There’s about 140 different breeds of tulips.”

Some Ottawa residents already getting a sneak peak of what’s to come.

“You walk along and you feel so good seeing all of the colours and the flowers,” says photographer Beverly Dawson, taking advantage of the weather and the beautiful scenery at Commissioners Park.

“I like getting the sun coming through some of the petals,” says Dawson. “It’s just gorgeous and it just feels good.”

The Tulip Festival kicks off the summer tourism season in Ottawa. With most COVID-19 restrictions lifted for the first time in two years, it’s expected to be a busy everywhere.

“As restrictions have lifted, and as people are feeling more comfortable getting around, and as there’s deals like the Ontario staycation tax credit, there’s a lot of pent up demand,” says Jantine Van Kregten of Ottawa Tourism.

Some hidden gems for Ottawa for tourists on a budget are the new House of Commons and Senate tours. They opened in 2019 but then had to be shut down a short time later because of the pandemic.

“Architecturally, (the Parliament buildings) are magnificent,” says Van Kregten. “And it’s right in our backyard. So you can get these new experiences without spending a lot because it’s free.”

For Dawson, she just loves being able capture the tulips in person.

“I love the tulips,” says Dawson. “I love the colour. The colour is amazing.”

The festival runs May 13 to 23.