The Abbotsford Tulip Festival used to be a popular Vancouver event in the Fraser Valley at a farm with hundreds of tulip flowers in the spring.
On January 25, 2021, the event announced that it was moving to the Okanagan and that it wouldn’t be happening again in Lower Mainland. In other words, the Abbotsford Tulip Festival is no more! The good news though is that the Chilliwack Tulip Festival still exists (and it was the larger of the two events).
The Abbotsford Tulip Festival hopes to set up as a new event under a new name in Armstrong BC (which is just outside Vernon in the Okanagan). We wish them well on their new endeavors!
To learn more about what the event used to look like, continue reading. To learn about Western Canada’s largest flower-themed spring event, which still exists and is running as of April 11th, 2021, see our article about the Chilliwack Tulip Festival.
Tulip Fields in the Fraser Valley
The Abbotsford Tulip Festival was scheduled to run from April 14th until May 3rd in 2020. Unfortunately, it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As many as 90,000 people used to 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 took 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 was a dirt parking lot, a tent-sheltered picnic area and then a large field with row upon row of beautiful tulips.
What was the Tulip Festival?
The Abbotsford Tulip Festival was at a farm with thousands of tulips spread over a 10-acre area. It wasn’t a festival like most major festivals in the Lower Mainland, although it did have food trucks on weekends and over a thousand people could turn out on busy sunny days.
The Tulip Festival was really just a nice spot to go for a short stroll and to see gazillions of gorgeous tulips – provided you didn’t go before they really started to bloom. It was a fabulous place to take photos, walk around and buy fresh flowers.
Admission at the Tulip Festival
The Abbotsford Tulip Festival used to operate from 9 am until 7:30 pm between early April and early to mid-May. The cost of entrance varied depending on when you went, your age, and how you bought your tickets.
Gates typically closed at 7 or 7:30 pm, but visitors already inside were welcome to stay until dusk.
Low Bloom vs. High Bloom Times
New as of its last couple of years, pricing was divided into Low Bloom and High Bloom times.
Low Bloom weekends were early in the season when there were tulips in bloom but also a considerable number of flowers still in the green-bud stage. The crowds were consequently limited then, but so too were the colours.
High Bloom, on the other hand, was later in the season when the majority of flowers were in full colour and the fields were at or near their peak.
To compensate for the vast difference in flower quality between the two periods, admission rates during High Bloom weekends were approximately twice the price compared to other times.
Tulip Festival Prices
Below is the price list for the 2019 season (which was the final year of the event because it got cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19). As you’ll notice, the festival offered a considerable financial incentive to encourage people to visit on less busy days and to purchase tickets online.
(Note: Prices and other details were 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.
- 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 paid the same rate as children and there was no charge for their attendant. This was great and compensated for the fact that, since it was on a farm with dirt fields, not all areas were accessible by wheelchair.
High Bloom Weekends and Holiday Pricing
The following rates were for Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holiday weekdays in 2019 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 in 2018.)
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.
Other Pricing Information
In addition to there being flowers to see, there were also flowers to purchase. A bunch of ten stems cost around $5 and you could pick your own for around 75 cents each, which was comparable to what you’d pay at a store but for flowers that couldn’t be fresher.
Tulip Festival Tips
Here were 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.
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: 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 #7: 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 in Abbotsford.
For more information on the festival itself, check out the official Abbotsford Tulip Festival website.