Blooms Abound at Spring Flower Fests

by Nancy Mueller

“I must have flowers, always, and always,” declared French Impressionist painter Claude Monet. Widely acclaimed for his masterpiece series of Water Lilies late in life. Monet was true to his word as seen through his magnificent gardens in Giverny, France. While the rest of us may not have quite such lofty aspirations, we can appreciate and delight in our own wave of spring flower fests as nature blooms right here in the Pacific Northwest.

Tacoma Daffodil Festival

Spring’s early riser takes center stage at The Daffodil Festival, celebrating its “90th year Around the Sound” in 2023, touting more than a variety of daffodils in bloom. 

“The Daffodil Festival brings young women together, regardless of background, to better Pierce County through service, leadership and tradition,” says Stadium High School’s 2011 Daffodil Princess, Sophie Peterson. “We went from serving food at the Emergency Food Network in hairnets, to reading books in the library in our iconic yellow dresses in one day! That just shows the incredible footprint and impact the festival has in Pierce County.”

The festivities kick off with the 2023 Princess Promenade in early February, signifying the Royal Court’s (“Official Pierce County Goodwill Ambassadors”) first public appearance, followed by the Queen’s Coronation on March 4th. The Grand Floral Parade complete with floats filled with daffodil floral bouquets and sponsored by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, travels through the communities of Tacoma, Puyallup and Sumner before reaching its final destination in Orting, Washington on April 1st.

Look for the volunteer members sporting dapper daffodil-yellow blazers along the parade path for good cheer and friendly assistance during the event festivities.

La Conner Daffodil and Skagit Valley Tulip Festivals

Throughout the month of March, undulating fields of golden daffodils “toss their heads in sprightly dance,” in the words of poet William Wordsworth, heralding spring’s opening act, capturing hearts and lifting spirits with their bright, buoyant blossoms in the process. Washington’s Skagit Valley celebrates the occasion with monthlong festivities focused on such fun community events as: Dandy Daffodil Tweed Ride where bicyclists dressed in finery of yore tour the scenic backroads of the county’s rich, flat farmlands on a leisurely meander among the flowering fields. Freeze the moment in a photo for the chance to have yours selected for next year’s poster commemorating the event. And you won’t want to end your stay without bringing home some daffodils sold at numerous farmers’ stands in the region.

Following close on the heels of La Conner’s Daffodil Festival, April’s Skagit Valley Tulip Festival spotlights the vast array of colorful magic spread over 1,000-plus acres between Mount Vernon and La Conner by local producers RoozenGaarde and Tulip Town. Purchase tickets online to time your farm visits, each offering its own stunning showcase gardens and shops with plenty of tulip-themed gifts for purchase, or pick up a map at a visitor center to take a driving tour among the vast valley fields. You might want to tiptoe through the tulips on designated paths and walkways for show-stopping photo ops, but if you do plan to wander afoot, be sure to wear rubber boots to keep your feet dry since even the main walkways can be wet and muddy.  It is spring after all.

Spokane Lilac Festival  

Celebrating all things lilac with a mission “to honor our military, empower youth and showcase our region,” Spokane Lilac Festival attracts visitors entranced by the sight and wafting fragrance of one of springtime’s most ephemeral flowers. In a show of resilience after a challenging two years for public venues, the 2023 event theme, “Onward,” demonstrates the community’s resolve to continue the festival tradition that got its start in 1938. In keeping with this year’s theme, the traditional annual pin features images of a train engine moving forward, along with images of the clocktower in Riverfront Park and Monroe Street Bridge.

Held on the third Saturday in May, the plethora of festival events includes the Lilac Legacy Art Show featuring works by local artists, Queen’s Luncheon, President’s Gala, Cruzin’ the Falls Car Show and nearby Food Truck Festival and Vendor Fair, plus Brewfest, capped off by the 85th Annual Armed Forces Torchlight Parade through downtown Spokane. The train motif continues in the 2023 Official “Onward” float design topped with an American flag.

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival  

Woodburn, Oregon, is the site of Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest from mid-March through the end of April. Over 100 varieties of tulips spanning 40 acres offer a dazzling feast for the senses and abundant family-friendly activities. A four-acre garden offers a perfect place for a picnic lunch before or after tulip field wanderings. A children’s play area and cow wagons for pulling toddlers and tykes around the field are also available. Additional weather-dependent activities include a Tulip Tour Train for touring around the fields and photo ops along the way, steam tractor demonstrations on weekends, and even carnival and hot air balloon rides. 

Bring home a keepsake from the festival and a fresh bouquet or two to brighten someone’s day as well as your own.

Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens

Lilac Days 2023 take flight again on the western side of the Cascade Mountain Range in Woodland, Washington, at The Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens, a restoration project honoring its German turn-of-the-century namesake and lilac developer. In the 23 days up to and through Mother’s Day, visitors are invited to stroll through the magnificent garden displays at this National Historic Site that features a variety of colorful, aromatic lilac species, many of which Hulda hybridized herself, such as the lavender Alice Christenson and True Pink exclusive varietals.

Tour the Victorian farmhouse built by Hulda’s parents in 1889 filled with furnishings and family treasures of the time. Then stop by the gift shop for lilac-scented products and artisan gifts, peek inside the potting shed, and pick out a lilac plant or two as a memento of your visit.