Tulip Mania: Celebrate tulip season in Canada and the Netherlands

Tulips and World War II remembrance combine in Canada and the Netherlands in 2020

Love history? Love tulips? You can combine both passions in 2020 with Le Boat. A spring cruise in the Holland or Canada offers both the annual tulip bloom and the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands at the same time. 


Experience the tulip blooms throughout Holland, the Netherlands, and Canada with Le Boat

So what’s the connection between both countries and tulips? During World War II, Holland’s liberation was brought about thanks in great part to Canadian soldiers and the Dutch royal family also took refuge in Ottawa, where Princess Margriet was born in 1943. 

The Dutch haven’t forgotten Canada’s important contribution to their freedom and the fight for democracy.
Each spring, the Dutch government sends 100,000 tulips to Ottawa as thanks for Canada’s role in the Netherlands’ freedom. 

In 2020, you can book a Le Boat cruising holiday in Canada or the Netherlands and take part in events to mark the occasion in both locations. Cruise the 202-kilometre UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal in Canada, or the Netherlands’ network of canals and waterways, and be there when the tulips burst into bloom by the millions in a kaleidoscope of colours. During your visit, take part in historic events to mark the freedom of Holland during World War II. 

Le Boat’s season opens April 1 in the Netherlands and mid-May in Canada, but the blooms continue until the season is over. Events in the Netherlands are centered around Liberation Day on May 5. Below are four destinations where you can take part in this historic year in Canada and Europe. 

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Splendid view of tulips and windmill in Lisse, Holland with Le Boat.Best time to go: April or May

Spring is celebrated early in the Netherlands! In Amsterdam you can get an urban take on tulip season, and enjoy one of the greatest flower events in the world. Despite its size, tulips aren’t hard to find in Amsterdam, floral gardens are peppered throughout the city. Welcome spring at the Amsterdam Tulip Festival that takes place throughout the month of April and enjoy the displays in more than 85 locations across the city, and a floating flower market. 

Join the celebration of Holland’s Liberation by attending the annual remembrance service at Holten Canadian War Cemetery on May 4, or gather at Museum Square for a free concert. Don’t miss the Anne Frank Museum, the Van Gogh Museum, or the Rijkamuseum. 

Lisse, Netherlands

Best time to go: April or May

Home to the spectacular Keukenhof Gardens, Lisse is made for tulip lovers. Bask in the beauty of more than seven million flowers planted each year, and celebrate the colourful bounty of spring. Keukenhof Gardens’ history dates back to the 15th century and once served as the kitchen gardens for Teylingen Castle, and later Keukenhof Castle. 

Rent a bicycle from Le Boat and cycle from Lisse to the gardens for a delightful excursion that will lead you past hundreds of colourful tulip fields. Don’t miss a visit to the Museum de Zwarte Tulp, dedicated to the Dutch tulip industry, and brush up on your tulip knowledge.  

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Field of Tulips in Ottawa Canada - Photo Credit Ottawa Tourism

Best time to go: Mid-May to End-May

The Canadian Tulip Festival runs from May 8 to 18 in Ottawa in 2020, and takes place as a symbol of international friendship and in recognition of the role Canadian troops played in the liberation of the Netherlands and Europe. Each year, more than one million tulips are planted in colourful displays that burst into bloom in a stunning rainbow of colours. 

In 2020, the Netherlands have announced they will be contributing 100,000 Liberation75 bulbs to mark the occasion, a number which Canada has committed to matching. With other bulbs contributed by supporters, the total number of blooms will be 1.1 million in 2020. On Veterans Day, the Festival will be distributing tulips to each veteran as a symbol of hope, spring, and international friendship. 

To take part in the celebration, pick up your Le Boat cruiser at Le Boat’s headquarters in Smiths Falls and cruise north to Ottawa, where you can moor your boat at either Dow’s Lake or in downtown Ottawa, and bask in the beauty of the floral displays. Wander Commissioners Park, enjoy Dutch theatre, live music, and more. Of course, if you miss the festival, the tulips will still be in bloom so don’t rush! 

Merrickville, Ontario, Canada

Le Boat Horizon Houseboat Cruiser moored in Merrickville OntarioBest time to go: Mid-May to End-May

The charming small town of Merrickville is located only six cruising hours from Le Boat’s headquarters in Smiths Falls, and makes the perfect place to stop and start the tulip festivities. The Merrickville Tulip Festival runs May 15 to May 17, 2020, and is partnered with the Canadian Tulip Festival as a “Friendship Tulip Suite.” View thousands of tulips spread throughout the village, listen to musical performances and other spring-inspired events throughout the event. 

Don’t miss other events taking place in Europe to celebrate Liberation Day, including historic sites at Ypres, Paris, Passchendaele, Vimy Ridge, and Juno Beach. Le Boat cruises to many of these, and other destinations across Europe and the U.K.

As the largest operator of self-driving boating vacations, Le Boat has 50 years of experience planning the perfect getaways to world-class destinations, offering a do-it-yourself vacation where you set the schedule. You can spend as much or as little time at each destination, as Captain of your own boat. This means you will have time to enjoy the tulip bloom while still taking in special events related to the end of World War II.

For a memorable trip in 2020, why not bring the whole family? Traveling with Le Boat is the perfect way to travel if you’re a family or large group. Easy to navigate, luxurious, and spacious, Le Boat’s cruisers sleep between 2 and 10 people and are perfect for family getaways or group holidays where you can share the beauty of the season. If you’re a novice boater, you’ll love how Le Boat’s cruisers are designed with the beginner in mind – no experience necessary. 


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