Each year in May, over one million tulips bloom across Canada’s capital region—a beautiful and colourful celebration of the spring season! Between the massive garden beds of the Canadian Tulip Festival, displays at historic sites and even flower farms, the photogenic options are endless! We’ve gathered some of the best locations where you can capture glorious tulips throughout the Ottawa region this spring.
The largest and most impressive tulip displays in Ottawa are at Commissioners Park, located near Dows Lake along the Rideau Canal. Stroll along a one-kilometre (over half a mile) pathway that winds through large garden beds filled with over 300,000 multicoloured blooms. Each year, dozens of varieties of early, mid-season and late-blooming tulips are planted for maximum tulip enjoyment. Frame your shots to include some of the gorgeous mature trees that pepper the green space. During the annual Canadian Tulip Festival, the park also hosts special programming including workshops, guided tours and a pretty boutique.
Tip: Don’t miss another great photo opp, the Festival’s spectacular Victoria Day Fireworks show on the last Sunday of the festival (weather permitting)!
Major’s Hill Park
With a spectacular view of Parliament Hill as your backdrop, the tulip gardens throughout Major’s Hill Park are not to be missed. Take postcard-perfect pics as you wander along the pathways between the Fairmont Château Laurier and the National Gallery of Canada. At the east end of Major’s Hill Park, you’ll find stunning winding gardens near the National Gallery. If you play with the angles, you can capture the Gallery’s beautiful architecture behind vibrant blooms. (Note: Construction may be taking place in the area.)
Tip: Just below Major’s Hill Park is the historic ByWard Market area. Stroll around this vibrant neighbourhood, find its hidden courtyards and explore boutiques, restaurants and cafés.
Along the Rideau Canal
Beautiful garden beds are situated all along the Rideau Canal Promenade, a 7.8-kilometre (3.6-mile) section of Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site which winds its way through downtown Ottawa. To cover the most ground, rent a bike or take a guided tour with a company such as Escape Bicycle Tours and Rentals. Various garden beds beautify the greenspaces along the multi-use pathways, including the Olympic Garden near Lansdowne Park where yellow and red tulips nod to the Olympic flame featured in the statue.
Tip: Try to time your photo to capture a variety of activities along with the tulips. You might see cyclists, runners or rollerbladers on the pathways, or kayakers, standup paddleboarders and other boaters on the Rideau Canal.
Canadian Museum of History
The country’s most visited museum, the Canadian Museum of History, is located directly across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill in Gatineau, Québec. The site’s outdoor grounds are beautified with water features, sculptures and lovely garden beds planted with over 10,000 tulip bulbs.
Tip: Head down towards the waterfront and angle your camera to capture some of the blooms with Parliament Hill in the background.
Ottawa is surrounded by nearby rural land filled with farms, some of which grow pretty tulips! You can take advantage of the rare option to pick your own and take lots of spectacular photos in fields of over 300,000 tulips at two farms: Green Corners Farm, located less than 25 minutes southeast of Parliament Hill, and Vankleek Hill Tulip Fields, situated about halfway between Montreal and Ottawa.
Tip: Green Corners Farm (the official floral supplier for the Canadian Tulip Festival) also has a show garden where you can admire 10,000 tulips, daffodils and hyacinths.
Garden Promenade tour
Can’t get enough of flowers and horticulture? Follow the Garden Promenade’s self-guided tour or join one of their guided excursions to see more than 75 of the region’s beautiful, public gardens. Sites include the rooftop at the Canadian War Museum, indoor and outdoor spaces at the National Gallery of Canada, expansive land at the Central Experimental Farm, the grounds of Rideau Hall, and much more.
Tip: If the weather isn’t cooperating, visit indoor gardens such as the National Gallery of Canada’s Garden Court and the Central Experimental Farm’s tropical greenhouse.
Tulip map and bloom meter
As the official gardener of Canada’s capital, the National Capital Commission provides helpful tulip viewing tools. You can use their interactive tulip map to see the tulip locations mentioned above and discover many more. And since tulips are dependent on weather conditions, consult the Tulip Meter for a general sense of the blooming status in the region.