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When I moved to the Pacific Northwest from London, part of me lamented that I was even further away from the tulip fields of the Netherlands. Imagine my surprise to learn that 90 minutes north of Seattle, the fields of the Skagit Valley bloom into a quilt of technicolor tulips throughout April each year.
As a leading tulip production area in Washington, the Skagit Valley has a unique microclimate – much like the wine production area Woodinville. A combination of temperate climate, mild winters, and a healthy dose of rain help grow some of the most beautiful displays of tulips you can find in the U.S.
If you want to visit the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, you’re not alone. This popular flower festival typically draws crowds – and as it’s now in its 39th year, this is expected yet again in 2023. Read on to learn about the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in 2023, plus how to visit and extra tips on planning your visit.
In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Coast Salish, Stillaguamish, Sauk Suiattle, and Skagit peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
This post was originally published in June 2014, and was updated in March 2022. Prices, dates, and links should be accurate for the 2023 Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
What is the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival?
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is the official celebration of the blooming of Skagit Valley tulips each year. The festival occurs from April 1st to April 30th each year.
Individual farmers who grow tulips in the Skagit Valley prepare all winter so that their fields are successful – and can handle the thousands of visitors each April. As the fields bloom according to the species, you can also find roses and daffodils too. The town of Mount Vernon, WA is the epicenter of horticultural fun; these are among the best tulip fields in Washington! Here are my tips on how you can attend the Tulip Festival, see Skagit Valley tulips (and other flowers, too!), and have a great time.
The Best Time to Visit the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is officially from April 1st to April 30th. Some fields open as early as March 30th and stay open as late as May 6th, depending on the weather and blooms. Like the Cherry Blossom festivals in Japan and Washington, D.C… it’s all up to the flowers!
In 2018, the best time to attend the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival was in the last two weeks of April due to cold winter weather in March. During 2019, the peak of the tulip bloom was mid-April. In 2021 (after not having an event in 2020 for obvious reasons…), the tulips peaked later in April, between the 14th and 26th. In 2022, tulips peaked a bit earlier, in the second week of the month.
Regardless of when the tulips peak in 2023, there will be four fields open this year – no reservations required! (Unlike in 2022.) Additionally, here are some tips for which time of day to visit:
- Sunrise is popular for photographers, as is sunset, for the beautiful golden light.
- Visiting midday means you’ll get a bright, vivid view of the blooms.
It also goes without saying that weekends are far more crowded than weekdays, so if you’re able to plan your visit on a weekday, you’ll share the fields with fewer people and may get better pictures if that’s part of your goal in visiting.
Tips for Attending the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
When you arrive to see the tulips and other flowers, there are some important rules to follow.
1. Plan Ahead
While you don’t need reservations this year to visit the four open fields – Tulip Town, the Roozengarde, Garden Rosalyn, and Tulip Valley Farms –, it’s still worth planning ahead before you hope in the car and drive up from Seattle.
In particular, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival website has excellent resources including several maps that can help you get oriented to where the different fields are. They also have a decent “sample itinerary” you might want to review for inspiration on planning your day among the tulips.
2. Park Only in Designated Areas
Parking can be hard to find at the various Skagit Valley tulip fields, and you may have to loop around to find a good spot. Whatever you do – don’t park anywhere you like, or along the side of the road. You may damage the fields and risk getting towed.
3. Observe Signs about Where You Can Walk
Each field and owner have their own route you can take through their field; this is all to protect the Skagit Valley tulips! I know you want the perfect Instagram picture, but please be respectful of the tulips and the owner who makes their livelihood growing these beautiful bulbs.
4. Don’t Damage the Flowers.
This is obvious, but if you damage the flowers, then nobody gets to enjoy them. If you visit with children or pets, please keep an eye on them too. And of course, don’t pick the flowers. The tulips and other flowers in the Skagit Valley are carefully harvested.
5. Bring Cash
While most businesses in Washington have gone cashless (or near cashless) following the pandemic, it’s always a good idea to have cash in case you need to pay for parking at a designated lot or want to buy a bundle of blooms to take home.
6. Visit in March for Daffodils
If you love daffodils (me!) but hate crowds (also me!), you might consider visiting the Skagit Valley in March. Most of the daffodil fields bloom a few weeks before the tulip fields, so you can come to admire these funny flowers without having to spend hours in traffic or wait for crowds to clear out of your picture.
The Top Fields at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Each year, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival committee creates a map that guides you to the top fields. The map is interactive depending on what is in bloom. While these fields change from year to year – and may be affected by weather and bloom times, it can be a good guide to seeing the ‘top’ fields.
Here are some of the top fields to visit at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival:
- The Roozengaarde, along Beaver Marsh Road. Home to a big windmill, this field is one of the most beautiful and colorful.
- Tulip Town, along MacLean Road. Another giant, colorful tulip field with a windmill.
- Garden Rosalyn, along Kamb Road. A beautiful garden with designed flower beds rather than huge fields.
- Tulip Valley Farms, along Bradshaw Road. New (or returning?) in 2023, this field is where you can find “Ethan’s Smile” tulips.
At this point, these seem to be the four main fields open to the public this year, so plan on visiting these.
Where to Stay for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival website has a great list of accommodations, but here are some of my suggestions too.
If You’re Willing to Stay Outside the Skagit Valley & Drive In
In Anacortes, I recommend the Majestic Inn & Spa (more luxe) or the Cap Sante Inn (more budget). I’ve stayed at both of these properties and they’re both nice. I also have a guide for how to spend your time in Anacortes, and how to explore the San Juan Islands beyond Anacortes.
Anacortes can also be a better budget-friendly option, since you’re further away from the crowds of people who want to stay and attend the festival each day.
If You Want to Stay Near the Skagit Valley Tulip Fields
In the Skagit Valley, hotels and bed & breakfasts book up fast. If you can’t find anywhere on the list provided on the festival website, consider booking an Airbnb. Here are a few I like:
- The Grand Willow Inn also lists all of its rooms on Airbnb, and the “Noir Blanc Suite” is my favorite (Private room from $85/night)
- “Barn Apartment at Avon Acres” (Entire home from $222/night)
- “The Granary Romantic Fall Getaway (with hot tub!)” (Entire home from $201/night)
You can also choose to stay in La Connor, WA, which is about 20 minutes away from the tulip fields. I added a few La Connor properties to my Airbnb wishlist (along with the properties above). Here’s the full list of Airbnbs I recommend for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
Have fun among the flowers during your visit to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in 2023! Have any other questions about attending the festival this year? Let me know in the comments!