The Abbotsford Tulip Festival is permanently closing, with plans to eventually set up in Armstrong, B.C. (Abbotsford News file photo)

The Abbotsford Tulip Festival is permanently closing, with plans to eventually set up in Armstrong, B.C. (Abbotsford News file photo)

Abbotsford Tulip Festival is closing, with plans to rebloom in Armstrong

Event organizer says pandemic and sale of land were factors in decision

One of Abbotsford’s most popular attractions is saying farewell to the community, with plans to eventually set up in Armstrong in the northern Okanagan.

Bloom: The Abbotsford Tulip Festival was founded by Alexis Szarek (formerly Warmderdam) and was first held in 2016.

She said the goal of the event was to bring four generations of her family’s passion for growing tulips to a broader audience.

The outdoor festival was held for four consecutive years on a 10-acre farm on North Parallel Road. It attracted up to 100,000 visitors each year over six weeks in April and May to take in the 2.5 million rainbow-coloured tulips in full bloom.

The event was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

RELATED: Inaugural Abbotsford Tulip Festival drew 90,000 people

Szarek said the festival employed dozens of staff and volunteers every year, and had a significant impact on the local economy while boosting tourism and putting Abbotsford on a global stage for its reputation as an agri-tourism destination.

The festival was featured in dozens of international publications and on programs such as CBC’s The Nature of Things with David Suzuki.

Szarek said the Abbotsford Tulip Festival also contributed more than $120,000 through volunteer hours to the Abbotsford Kiwanis Club, the Canadian Ski Patrol, Clearbrook Kiwanis Club and W. J. Mouat Secondary’s dry grad.

She said several recent factors impacted the decision to permanently close the event, including last year’s cancellation as well as the uncertainty of the 2021 season.

In addition, the land where the festival had been held was sold earlier this year to new owners, further compromising its future.

Szarek and her growing family have since relocated to Armstrong, where she and her husband, Marc, hope to re-imagine Bloom.

She thanked all the staff, volunteers and community stakeholders who helped in the success of the Abbotsford event.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling to say goodbye to the incredible community that supported our vision for the last few years but we’re hopeful for the future of the event in our new community in the northern Okanagan,” she said.

Craig Nichols, executive director of Tourism Abbotsford, said the Abbotsford Tulip Festival offered a “tremendous” economic benefit to the community.

RELATED: Tulip festival’s second plea for more parking space turned down

He said Swoop and Flair airlines brought travellers from primary feeder markets in Alberta to the festival, and Tourism Abbotsford’s spring marketing campaigns included several local businesses and accommodation packages resulting in new visitor spending and overnight stays.

“We sensed from the moment Alexis first presented her tulip festival concept that she was going to be successful. She had passion and a vision that was easy to support,” Nichols said.

“As anticipated, the crowds came and shared their experiences on social media. Tulip imagery was becoming synonymous with Abbotsford provincially, nationally and internationally.”

Nichols said although the city is disappointed to see the departure of Bloom, there are “strong plans” in place this year, and the community is encouraged to follow the “Let’s Do Something” campaign, which launched in the spring.

Visit abbotsfordtulipfestival.ca and or follow @abbotsfordtulipfestival on Instagram for past event photos and to keep up with future developments.



vhopes@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

agritourismFestival

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Alexis Szarek is the founder of Bloom: The Abbotsford Tulip Festival, which is permanently closing, with plans to set up in Armstrong, B.C. (Submitted photo)

Alexis Szarek is the founder of Bloom: The Abbotsford Tulip Festival, which is permanently closing, with plans to set up in Armstrong, B.C. (Submitted photo)

Just Posted

School Board Trustee candidate Joel Neufeld said his favourite children’s book is Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. (Special to The Star)
Langley School District trustee candidates pick favorite children’s books

Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, Robert Munch, and Dr. Seuss top the list

(File photo)
Township to hold COVID-safe baseball spring break baseball camps

Aldergrove minor baseball and North Langley Trappers run two week camps

The Langley School District has issued COVID-19 notifications for H.D. Stafford Middle and Blacklock Fine Arts Elementary schools. (Langley Schools)
The Langley School District has issued COVID-19 notifications for H.D. Stafford Middle and Blacklock Fine Arts Elementary schools. (Langley Schools)
Langley schools issued COVID-19 alerts, third this week for H.D. Stafford

As of Friday there are four local schools on the exposure list

Nesting season is marked after South Surrey preserve pair welcome first egg on Feb. 24, 2021. (Hancock Wildlife Foundation)
VIDEO: South Surrey bald eagle preserve welcomes first egg, marks nesting season

Second egg is expected Saturday afternoon and the babies will hatch in April

A model of the planned Salishan Place centre was displayed at a Fort public information session in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
$711,000 tourism grant goes to Langley arts and culture centre

Salishan Place by the River is a planned community hub with many amenities and uses

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Passengers aboard Komagata Maru in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, 1914 - Library and Archives Canada image
Abbotsford council is asked to rename street in memory of Komagata Maru victims

Most of 376 the passengers aboard ship were denied entry into Canada in 1914

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Most Read