Tulip Festival: When is peak bloom, how to get there & other details to plan your trip

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. -- It's that time of year again! The 35th Skagit Valley Tulip Festival kicked off Sunday and will run through the entire month. But before you hit the road you might want to read this first:

When is peak bloom?

We're all excited about spring and flowers, but this year's chilly start has slightly delayed the tulips. Festival organizers told Q13 News, that the tulips are still looking pretty green. They anticipate full bloom won't happen for another week (April 9).

How to avoid the traffic

Visiting the flower fields during the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in April should be an enjoyable event, not a day spent stuck in traffic. Make your trip as pleasant as possible by preparing for congestion, planning alternate routes and understanding the area.

Alternate Interstate 5 exits
Many travelers choose to take the Interstate 5 to exit 226 (State Route 536/Kincaid Street) into the heart of Mount Vernon. This route easily connects to shops and restaurants, but during peak weekend visiting hours, traffic can quickly back up onto the highway. Consider alternate exits to avoid this congestion.

Exit 218: and use Mill Town Road

Exit 221: and take Fir Island Road – there will be signs for the south end traffic

Exit 230: SR 20 is a great option for anyone traveling from Canada, points north of Skagit County or those from the south who want to avoid congestion in town. You can head west on SR 20 to SR 536 or take a left on your choice of Skagit County roads to reach the flower fields.

Tulip viewing is best as a driving or cycling tour
For travelers who want to see the many tulip fields around Skagit County, this portion of the festival is a driving tour. Drivers should safely navigate the roads while passengers take photos. If everyone wants to get out of the car, visit the display gardens at Roozengaarde or Tulip Town to find designated parking areas. Parking is free with admission to these tulip farms.

Travelers should also: 

  • Obey no parking signs.
  • Never stop in the middle of the road.
  • Avoid parking in/blocking private driveways.
  • For those who would like to cycle or take a bus to the event, there are two Skagit Transit Park & Rides in Mount Vernon. When cycling through the fields, be aware of drivers touring the fields and follow the rules of the road to keep yourself and others safe.

How to avoid the crowds

The tulip festival runs the entire month of April. Weekday visits typically allow visitors the chance to see the tulips with minimal traffic.

If a weekend visit is necessary, arrive early when the display gardens open. Congestion is often at its worst on county roads and on southbound I-5 during sunny weekend afternoons, just after the gardens close.

Go before you go

There are no public restrooms in the tulip fields. Those who purchase tickets to the display gardens or are customers at some area businesses will have access to restrooms. Others will want to make pit stops before hitting the flower fields.

WSDOT has safety rest areas just north of Arlington and near the Skagit/Whatcom county line. City of Mount Vernon has a public restroom at Lions Park just north of downtown.

Enjoy the beauty of the Skagit Valley by planning ahead, knowing alternate routes and allowing extra time.