The Abbotsford Tulip Festival is a popular Vancouver event in the Fraser Valley that takes place at a farm with hundreds of tulip flowers in the spring.
Bloom & Season Updates
Last year the Abbotsford Tulip Festival ran from April 13th until May 12th. In 2020 it is tentatively scheduled to go from April 14th until May 3rd. Exact dates though will depend on the weather and this year’s growing conditions.
As of March 20th, the fate of the festival for 2020 is in doubt due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The festival hasn’t yet been cancelled, but the government is banning all events involving over 50 people. Health authorities are also very strongly recommending that people stay home, not go out, or get within 2 metres of people they don’t live with.
Most Lower Mainland events scheduled for the last two weeks of March have been cancelled and it’s not looking good for flower festivals or other April events this year. Details for the event in Abbotsford, however, are to be confirmed.
Tulip Fields in the Fraser Valley
The Abbotsford Tulip Festival opened for the 2018 season on April 9th and in 2019 its first day of operations was on April 13th. As of that date and for the following couple of weeks the fields were at Low Bloom and so “still mostly green.” After that though, High Bloom season arrived and the place looked even more amazing!
As many as 90,000 people make the trek out to the Fraser Valley to admire the more than 2.5 million flowers and 40 different varieties of tulips that bloom over the course of the approximately one-month-long event each year.
Abbotsford Tulip Festival Location
The Abbotsford Tulip Festival takes place in a field at 36737 North Parallel Road in Abbotsford not far from Exit #95 on the Trans-Canada Highway about an hour’s drive from Vancouver (in good traffic). At the site there is a dirt parking lot, a tent-sheltered picnic area and then a large field with row upon row of beautiful tulips.
Note: Although the festival’s venue is located close to Exit #95 from the highway, visitors are asked to take Exit #104 instead to minimize both congestion and inconvenience to neighbours.
What is the Tulip Festival?
The Abbotsford Tulip Festival is at a farm with thousands of tulips spread over a 10-acre area. It’s not a festival like most major festivals in the Lower Mainland, although it does have food trucks on weekends and over a thousand people can turn out on a busy sunny day.
The Tulip Festival is really just a nice spot to go for a short stroll and to see gazillions of gorgeous tulips – provided you don’t go before they really start to bloom. It’s a fabulous place to take photos, walk around and buy fresh flowers.
Admission at the Tulip Festival
The Abbotsford Tulip Festival is usually open from 9 am until 7:30 pm from early April until early to mid-May and the cost of entrance varies depending on when you go, your age, and how you buy your tickets.
Gates close at 7 or 7:30 pm, but visitors already inside are welcome to stay until dusk.
Note: In 2019 tickets were released every Tuesday at 12:01 am for the following Saturday thru Friday. This meant that you could purchase tickets online up to eleven or so days in advance. We’re not sure why they did that, but it’s likely because they couldn’t predict at the start when “high bloom” season would begin.
Low Bloom vs. High Bloom Times
New as of a couple of years ago, pricing was divided into Low Bloom and High Bloom times.
Low Bloom weekends are early in the season when there are tulips in bloom but also a considerable number of flowers still in the green-bud stage. The crowds are consequently limited then, but so too are the colours.
High Bloom, on the other hand, is later in the season when the majority of flowers are in full colour and the fields are at or near their peak.
To compensate for the vast difference in flower quality between the two periods, admission rates during High Bloom weekends are approximately twice the price compared to other times.
Magic Hour and Locals Nights
The Abbotsford Tulip Festival offers a couple of special opening times. Magic Hour, for example, is when the fields are open from sunrise to sunset and admission prices are at a premium.
Gates during Magic Hour open between 5 and 6 am, depending on the date. In early April the place opens closer to 6 am. In May, when the sun rises earlier, gates start opening closer to 5 am.
The other main special times at the festival are the Locals Nights. That’s when people with an Abbotsford address (and their friends) can attend on Tuesdays and Thursdays after 3 pm and pay only a couple of dollars. Just one person needs to present a valid driver’s licence with an Abbotsford address and everyone in their party gets in for extra cheap.
LOCALS NIGHT INFO
In 2019 after 3 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays was when Abbotsford locals could pay just $2.50 online or $4.00 at the gate. Only one member of the party had to be a resident of Abbotsford, so if you knew someone with proof of residency, and you went with them, you could get in for that price too! We expect the festival will offer something similar in 2020, but details are to be confirmed.
Tulip Festival Prices
Below is the price list for the 2019 season. 2020 prices are to be determined, but will likely be around the same. As you’ll notice, the festival offers a considerable financial incentive to encourage people to visit on less busy days and to purchase tickets online.
(Note: Prices and other details are subject to change.)
Weekdays and Low Bloom Weekend Pricing
The following rates were for non-holiday Mondays to Fridays as well as the first one or two weekends of the festival in 2019 (with exact Low Bloom weekend dates to be confirmed.)
- Adults (ages 13-64): $7.50 online in advance, $8.00 online on the day and $10.00 at the gate
- Seniors (ages 65+): $3.75 online in advance, $3.75 online on the day and $5.00 at the gate
- Children (ages 3-12): $5.00 online in advance, $6.00 online on the day and $10.00 at the gate
- Magic Hour (all ages): $13.00 online and $15.00 at the gate
- Locals Night (all ages): $2.50 online in advance and $4.00 at the gate
Note: Disabled visitors pay the same rate as children and there is no charge for their attendant. This is great and compensates for the fact that, being a farm with dirt fields, not all areas are accessible by wheelchair.
HOW PRICES COMPARE TO THE SEASON BEFORE
In case you were interested, the above prices were almost the same as they were in 2018, although very slightly different.
Senior’s tickets in 2019 were $1.25 less than they were the year before when purchased online (as they were $5.00 regardless of how and when purchased previously). Also, adult tickets were between $0.50 and $1.00 less when purchased online than they were in 2018, and Locals Nights tickets were between $0.50 and $1.00 more than in the previous season.
High Bloom Weekends and Holiday Pricing
The following rates were for Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holiday weekdays last year (if applicable) when the flowers were at their peak.
- Adults (ages 13-64): $15.00 online in advance, $19.00 online on the day and $25.00 at the gate
- Seniors (ages 65+): $10.00 online in advance, $19.00 online on the day and $25.00 at the gate
- Children (ages 3-12): $10.00 online in advance, $19.00 online on the day and $25.00 at the gate
- Magic Hour (all ages): $25.00 online and $30.00 at the gate
(Note: the above High Bloom prices were all pretty much identical to what they were last year. 2020 prices are still to be determined, but we expect them to be similar.)
High Bloom Weekend Evening Pricing
New for 2019, the Abbotsford Tulip Festival offered extra discounts on weekend evenings. The following rates were for Saturdays and Sundays during the High Bloom season for visitors arriving after 5 pm.
- Adults (ages 13-64): $8.00 online in advance, $15.00 online on the day and $25.00 at the gate
- Seniors (ages 65+): $5.00 online in advance, $10.00 online on the day and $25.00 at the gate
- Children (ages 3-12): $5.00 online in advance, $10.00 online on the day and $25.00 at the gate
As you’ll see, the discounts were for online purchases only. If you arrived after 5 pm but paid at the gate, you still had to pay full price (unless you used your phone to go online and pay that way, which would have been a smart thing to do if you could).
Parking and Children Under 2
There was no additional cost for parking as it was included in the cost of admission.
There was also no charge for children ages 2 and under in 2019. 2020 details will likely be the same.
Other Pricing Information
In addition to there being flowers to see, there are also flowers to purchase. A bunch of ten stems in recent years has cost around $5 and you can pick your own for around 75 cents each, which is comparable to what you’d pay at a store but for flowers that couldn’t be fresher.
Tulip Festival Tips
Here are some suggestions on how to make your trip to the Abbotsford Tulip Festival as good as possible.
TIP #1: Go on a sunny day.
TIP #2: If going within a few days of rain, wear rubber boots! The grounds can get pretty mucky.
TIP #3: In a typical year, go between the second and last week of April when the flowers are at their peak. In 2017, however, peak season was a couple of weeks later than usual given all the snow and cold weather that winter. 2020 may or may not be similar. If in doubt about the status of the blooms, check the Abbotsford Tulip Festival website where they’ll likely post a comment about the day’s state of the displays.
TIP #4: Try to go on a weekday if possible. Weekends are convenient, but if it’s a sunny day you’ll find the millions of flowers being admired by an equal number of people!
TIP #5: Take a picnic and your camera. Also, to get your money’s worth, plan to stay a while. Dogs on leash are also welcome.
TIP #6: Especially if you plan to go on the weekend, it’s best to purchase your tickets in advance. Not only will you save $10 or more per person during the High Bloom season, but admission numbers are limited so if you arrive at a busy time without purchasing your tickets in advance there’s a chance you might not get in.
TIP #7: If planning to take photos during the early morning Magic Hour, check the forecast first to make sure the weather will cooperate as it’s no fun getting up at a ridiculous hour to take sunrise photos to find only clouds and zero sun!
TIP #8: If planning to attend the Magic Hour at the crack of dawn, do it mid-season and check what time sunrise is before you go. You want to go when there are lots of flowers in bloom, so don’t go at the very start of the festival season. Wait until the flowers are at their peak. At the same time, however, remember that sunrise gets earlier and earlier each day, which means waking up increasingly early too.
TIP #9: If you like flowers, then also definitely check out the Chilliwack Tulip Festival. It’s Western Canada’s largest tulip festival and it’s just a 10 minute drive from Abbotsford. Both festivals are wonderful.
TIP #10: Weekend rates during High Bloom season are around twice the price of weekends during the Low Bloom season. The difference in the state of the flowers between the beginning of the Low Bloom season and middle of the High Bloom season, however, is night and day – there is no comparison – in one case the fields are predominantly green and in the other they are amazingly full of colour.
The difference between the very end of the Low Bloom season and beginning of the High Bloom season, however, isn’t considerable. Consequently, for the best value for money, if you can’t go on a weekday during High Bloom season, visit on a weekend at the end of the Low Bloom season.
TIP #11: Unless you live in the Fraser Valley, it’s a bit of a trek to get to the festival so make a day trip out of it and visit other attractions in the area too.
Great places to visit while in the Fraser Valley include the Greater Vancouver Zoo if you like animals and/or are with children. Other interesting places in the region include Harrison Hot Springs, which is beautiful any time of the year, and the Fort Langley historic site.
Also in the Fraser Valley, for children there is Castle Fun Park in Abbotsford and for adults the Wineries and Wine Tours in Langley. And finally, on Saturdays when it’s running, make sure to check out the Farm and Country Market which takes place on Saturdays from 9 am until 1 pm right in Abbotsford. In 2020 the first market of the season is on Saturday May 2nd.
The Tulip Field and Accessibility
Note that as the Abbotsford Tulip Festival takes place in a farm field, it is not wheelchair accessible. Strollers with fairly rugged tires can make it around fairly easily, however, unless it has been raining and become very muddy.
For more information on the festival itself, check out the official Abbotsford Tulip Festival website.