Text by Holly Seng
With scenic views of the Cascade Mountains and North Puget Sound, Skagit Valley, Washington, offers much to be admired when it comes to natural wonders. Each April, it’s the acres upon acres of vibrant tulips in full bloom that serve as the main attraction for the month-long Skagit Valley Tulip Festival and are sure to bring an appreciative smile to those in attendance.
“Part of what keeps me here is, every year, I get to be a part of [the festival’s] beauty and see the smiles on people’s faces,” says Cindy Verge, who has served as the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival’s executive director since 2003. In her role, Cindy promotes the numerous events and activities comprising the 30-day festival and serves as a source of information for visitors—both first-time and returning.
Each year, the festival welcomes local and international visitors alike with around 350,000 to 400,000 total during a typical year. In 2019, every state was represented along with 89 countries. While the past three years were impacted by the pandemic, the festival is set to celebrate its 40th year with a full slate of events.
The tulips bloom for about two to three weeks during the festivities, but the exact timing is up to nature. “We can schedule our events and activities, but our star attraction is the one thing we have absolutely no control over,” notes Cindy. From salmon barbecues to street fairs featuring hundreds of vendors, the community shows up in full force to provide visitors with exciting events throughout the festival. “We call it a local festival with a world-class reputation, and we just couldn’t do that without our community,” she says.
The landscape takes on a magical appearance once the tulips arrive, and guests can take in the awe-inspiring sight of a 20-acre field overflowing with vibrant varieties of the beloved bloom. A few of the participating farms also offer gardens guests can tour, such as RoozenGaarde, the retail division of Washington Bulb Co., which offers a picturesque 7-acre garden complete with winding pathways and breathtaking views.
April in Skagit Valley serves as a time to celebrate the captivating allure and tranquility the natural world offers. “You go out there, and there’s just a sense of peace—it’s tough to beat,” says Cindy. “I hope that each visitor that comes can take the time to pause and just enjoy a thing of beauty and leave with that peace enjoying a thing of beauty gives you.”
For more information, visit tulipfestival.org.