The 2005 Canadian Tulip Festival is themed “A Celebration of Peace and Friendship” and will  commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the Gift of Tulips to Canadians by the people of the Netherlands. The Canadian Tulip Festival has grown into the largest tulip festival in the world from a gift of thanks given six decades ago. In the fall of 1945, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands presented Ottawa with 100,000 tulip bulbs. The gift was given in appreciation of the safe haven which Holland's exiled royal family received during the Second World War and in recognition of the role which Canadian troops played in liberating the Netherlands.  The tulips have become an important symbol of international friendship and the beauty of spring. They also have special meaning to the people of Canada's Capital Region. During the war, the Dutch royal family was hosted at Government House in Ottawa. Princess Margriet was born at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. The floral gift that began in 1945 has established this region as "The Tulip Capital of North America".
Malak Karsh, the founder of the Canadian Tulip Festival, began taking pictures of these gifted tulips almost immediately and his incredible artistry created a bond between Ottawa and the Tulip that has endured these sixty years. The first Canadian Tulip Festival was held in 1953. The Ottawa Board of Trade, at the suggestion of world renowned photographer Malak whose photographs have immortalized the tulip, formalized the Canadian Tulip Festival to coincide with the tulip's annual bloom. Millions of tulips in over 70 varieties are planted in Ottawa-Gatineau each year.  The National Capital Commission alone is responsible for one million tulips. There are more tulips blooming in Ottawa each spring than in any other capital city in the world, including Den Hague. Each spring, the National Capital Commission (NCC) is the official 'guardian' and designer of the National Capital's gardens by managing the colourful splendour and stunning display of millions of tulips, creating a magnificent backdrop for the Canadian Tulip Festival. The NCC is responsible for many of the impressive flower beds and green spaces found throughout the region located on Parliament Hill, along Confederation Boulevard and the Capital's scenic parkways and recreational pathways, in front of national museums and institutions and along the historic Rideau Canal.  The most spectacular display of tulips is found in Commissioners Park, an official site of the Canadian Tulip Festival located at Dows Lake and near the Rideau Canal, where the NCC plants more than 300,000 tulips each year. Commissioners Park is also home of the Tulip Legacy Exhibit, an exhibit implemented by the NCC explaining the history of the Dutch Royal Family's refuge during the World War II and the contribution of Canadian troops in the liberation of the Netherlands in 1944-45. The Canadian Tulip Festival has taken this gift of friendship and promulgated it around the world, first by creating Friendship Countries in the celebrating of the Festival, and by inaugurating the International Peace Garden.

Canadian Tulip Festival Blooms
with International Friendship

  photo´s left:  by Malak Karsh