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.
As of April 18, 2018, according to the event’s official website, the fields at the Abbotsford Tulip Festival were still in “Low Bloom”, which means there are tulips in colour but a lot still looking green. By the weekend of April 28-29, however, High-Bloom ticket pricing will likely be in effect.
It has also been raining lots recently, so be sure to wear your boots!
Tulip Fields in the Fraser Valley
The Abbotsford Tulip Festival opened for the 2018 season on April 9th. As of that date the place is at Low Bloom with fields “still mostly green.” Colours will be appearing more and more though over the next couple of weeks.
In 2017 the Abbotsford Tulip Festival ran from April 10th to May 14th. It was originally scheduled to go until May 7th but the end date was extended by one week due to the late start of the season. Dates for the 2018 season will likely be similar.
Abbotsford & Chilliwack Tulip Festivals
There are two major tulip festivals in the Fraser Valley – one in Abbotsford and one in Chilliwack.
This article features information about the Abbotsford Tulip Festival, which is amazing. Tulips of the Valley, located just 10 minutes further down the road in Chilliwack, however, is the Lower Mainland’s original tulip festival and Western Canada’s largest!
Both of these flower festivals are definitely worth checking out, especially during peak season. Tulips of the Valley is much larger, and actually cheaper, but both are impressive.
For details about the event in Chilliwack, click Tulips of the Valley. And for information about the Abbotsford Tulip Festival, see below.
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 congestion as well as 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.
Low Bloom vs. High Bloom Times
New for 2018, pricing is 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 between just $2 and $3.
Below is the price list for the 2018 season. 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 are for non-holiday Mondays to Fridays as well as the first one or two weekends of the festival.
- Adults (ages 13-64): $8 online in advance, $9 online on the day and $10 at the gate
- Seniors (ages 65+): $5 regardless of when and how purchased
- Children (ages 3-12): $5 online in advance, $6 online on the day and $10 at the gate
- Magic Hour (all ages): $13 online and $15 at the gate
- Locals Night (all ages): $2 online in advance and $3 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.
TULIPS OF THE VALLEY PRICING
While the Abbotsford Tulip Festival takes place in Abbotsford, the somewhat larger Tulips of the Valley event takes place in Chilliwack, just 16 km further down the highway.
Although larger, the Chilliwack venue is also generally less expensive than the Abbotsford event, especially on weekends in peak season. Both are exceptional flower festivals, however, and loved by flower enthusiasts.
For comparison, in 2018, admission for adults (ages 17+) at Chilliwack’s Tulips of the Valley costs $6 on weekdays and $10 on weekends when purchased online, and $8 on weekdays and $15 on weekends when purchased at the gate. That compares to between about $8 and $25 for adults at the Abbotsford event.
In short, both are wonderful events and highly recommended. Abbotsford is just 10 minutes closer to Vancouver, while the tulip fields in Chilliwack are both larger and less expensive. Take your choice, or check them both out!
High Bloom Weekends and Holiday Pricing
The following rates are for Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holiday weekdays when the flowers are at their peak.
- Adults (ages 13-64): $15 online in advance, $19 online on the day and $25 at the gate
- Seniors (ages 65+): $10 online in advance, $19 online on the day and $25 at the gate
- Children (ages 3-12): $10 online in advance, $19 online on the day and $25 at the gate
- Magic Hour (all ages): $25 online and $30 at the gate
Parking and Children Under 2
There is no additional cost for parking as it is included in the cost of admission.
There is also no charge for children ages 2 and under in 2018.
Prices Compared to Previous Years
In case you were interested, for comparison, in 2017 ticket prices on weekends for folk ages 3+ were $25 at the gate and $15 if purchased online. Prices for non-holiday weekdays were $8 for adults (ages 13-64) and $5 for children (ages 3-12) and seniors (ages 64+) regardless of how purchased.
As you can see, prices in 2018 are pretty similar to rates in 2017. The main difference is the extra discount for weekends during the non-peak Low Bloom period, which makes a lot of sense.
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. 2018 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 really like tulips, then also check out the Tulips of the Valley event in Chilliwack. It’s not that far away, and it’s just as big or even bigger!
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 2018 the first market of the season is on May 5th.
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.