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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 – though in 2021, it will operate a little differently. Read on to learn about the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in 2021, plus how to visit and extra tips on planning your visit.
This post was originally published in June 2014, and was updated in March 2021. Prices, dates, and links should be accurate for the 2021 Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
What is the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival?
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is the official celebration the bloom 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 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, between the 8th and 22nd. In 2020, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival was called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For 2021, you’ll need to book tickets in advance to visit some of the most popular fields that participate in the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Both Tulip Town and the Roozengaarde let you purchase tickets for a specific day and 3-hour time frame. This will help cut down on crowds in the field and allow people to safely visit. This means that my historic advice to not visit on the weekends no longer applies – as long as you arrange a reservation, there won’t be traffic or crowds like in years past.
If you’re uncertain when to book a ticket during the day, here are some tips:
- 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.
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. Book Your Tickets in Advance
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
Some of the fields charge for parking and/or admission; in 2021, that may be different due to the reservation system. However, it’s best to always bring some cash in case you need it!
6. Visit in March for Daffodils
If you love daffodils but hate crowds, you might consider visit 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. As mentioned, you need a reservation for the Roozengaarde in 2021. Click here to book.
- Tulip Town, along MacLean Road. Another giant, colorful tulip field with a windmill. As mentioned, you need a reservation for Tulip Town in 2021. Click here to book.
- The Washington Bulb Company Daffodil Fields – there are a lot of them! If you love daffodils, consider attending the 7th Annual La Conner Daffodil Festival, which takes place in March and early April. This year, you need a reservation to visit the daffodil fields too. Click here to book.
I’m not sure which fields will be open without reservations, so it’s best to plan ahead and get yourself a reservation for one of 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
Consider staying in Seattle (a 90-minute drive) or Anacortes (a 30-minute drive). You will have lots of accommodation choices in Seattle.
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 their rooms on Airbnb, and the “Noir Blanc Suite” is my favorite (Private room from $65/night)
- “Barn Apartment at Avon Acres” (Entire home from $194/night)
- “The Granary Romantic Fall Getaway (with hot tub!)” (Entire home from $220/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! If you have other questions, please post in the comments below.