Time to plan a tulip tour in Skagit Valley
Intensely colorful fields of tulips attract visitors from all over, including Meg Miezwa (left) and Gail Rector Quaid, Spokane residents who make the trip every year.
photos by Dan Bates / The Herald
Grace Kelley, 8, of Mount Vernon dashes past a tulip field at Roozengaarde Flowers and Bulbs during the 2011 Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
For those needing a flower fix, the daffodils are up and ready for viewing right now.
The annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival officially kicks off April 1 but there's so much to take in -- events and activities continue throughout the month -- that you might as well start planning ahead.
You could even get a jump start on your flower viewing this weekend with two fields of daffodils already in bloom.
The tulips, however, need a little more coaxing and won't start blooming in earnest until about April 5, said Cindy Verge, Skagit Valley Tulip Festival executive director.
"On the nice days, when it is 50 degrees, they grow some. On the not so nice days with temperatures in the 40s and 30s, they come up and say 'Are you kidding me?' " Verge said.
Verge predicted a fairly normal year for Skagit Valley's iconic flower, with a nice bloom on by Easter weekend, give or take a day or two on either side. The tulips generally stick around for about two weeks, with blooms lasting through about April 22, depending upon the tulip variety, Verge said.
To investigate where the daffodils are blooming right now, you can go to the tulip festival website at www.tulipfestival.org/ and click the Bloom Map. The map is available through April for up-to-date information on which fields are offering tulips.
Millions of tulips.
The tulip fields stretch over a 15-mile triangle bordered by Highway 20, the Skagit River and the Swinomish Channel. Washington Bulb Co. Inc./Roozengaarde, one of the world's largest tulip growers, grow and harvest the "field flowers."
The two popular display gardens are in Mount Vernon: Tulip Town, 15002 Bradshaw Road, and Roozengaarde, 15867 Beaver Marsh Road.
For those looking to spend the day in Skagit Valley, you simply have to ask yourself one question: What do you like to do?
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival includes historic home tours, bike rides, wineries, art shows, music and salmon barbecues.
To help people decide what to see and do, tulip festival organizers have posted a sample itinerary on the website, Verge said.
The itinerary points visitors to all corners of the Skagit Valley.
"We are a countywide event," Verge said. "Folks that come here can visit all of our cities."
In addition to the flowers, here are a few events during the 29th Skagit Valley Tulip Festival:
Wood Fest: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 31 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 1 in the Sedro-Woolley High School gymnasium, 1235 Third St. This event celebrates wood and invites people to tour the many carvings and murals in downtown Sedro-Woolley. There are also chain saw and traditional carvers, wood crafters, artisans, high school woodworking exhibits, a silent auction, wooden tops and kid activities.
Skagit Valley Tulip Run: 9:30 a.m. April 7: 5 Mile Run and 2 Mile Run/Walk at Skagit Regional Airport, 12035 Higgins Airport Way, Burlington. Free to 14 and under and 70 and older. All others, $12 general, $22 with T-shirt.
Third annual Historic Home Tour: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 7. Visit some of Skagit County's vintage homes. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 day of event. Contact Skagit County Historical Museum for ticket information at 360-466-3365 or download an order form at www.skagitcounty.net/museum.
Friends of the Fish Art Show: Opening reception with refreshments is 5 to 10 p.m. April 16 at Edison Eye Gallery, 5800 Cain Court, Edison. The show will feature local artists and their art with fish and water landscape themes through April 30.
26th annual Tulip Festival Street Fair: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday April 20 to 22, First St., Mount Vernon. Live music at two stages, children's activities and a variety of food, with artisans from eight states. More than 100 juried arts and crafts vendors.
Tulip Pedal: Registration 7 a.m. to noon; course open until 4 p.m. April 21 at La Conner Middle School, 503 N Sixth St., La Conner. Ride on your own bike on a 20-, 40- or 60-mile route or ride all three. Pre-registration is $30; day-of registration is $35. Kids 14 and under free.
For more information on any of these events go to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival website at www.tulipfestival.org.
Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; email@example.com.