While April showers typically bring May flowers, thats not the case in the Skagit Valley.
During the month of April hundreds of acres of colorful blooms can be seen at the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Mount Vernon, about a two-hour drive from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
In its 31st year, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world. Last years festival drew visitors from all 50 states and 82 countries.
The festival officially opened to the public Tuesday and the tulip, daffodil and iris fields can be admired until April 30.
The destination event was started by the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce in 1984 and offers a perfect opportunity to stop and smell the flowers. The three-and-a-half acre display garden features 250,000 bulbs with an authentic Dutch windmill. Each year the display garden is redesigned and replanted to showcase the floral design and bright color combinations.
Mother Nature determines when the tulips bloom. Warmer weather mean early blooms while colder weather means its not until mid-April when the flowers open up. Visit Tulips.com/bloommap.cfm for an updated calendar of whats in bloom.
The fields can be viewed by vehicle, on foot, on a bicycle or a tour bus. The majority of the flowers can bee seen from the west side of Interstate 5 between exit 221 and exit 231.
Tulips are a major industry in the Skagit Valley and while the festival shines the spotlight on the colorful products, its also a chance for visitors to learn about bulb gardening and purchase bulbs of their own.
Tulip Town in Mount Vernon showcases its tulips with indoor and outdoor displays, and Roozengaarde, also in Mount Vernon, features show gardens for admirers to shop for bulbs for their personal gardens.
Several events throughout the Skagit Valley celebrate the tulips during the month. La Conner and Mount Vernon are at the center of the festival as host of many of the events from wine tasting to concerts and the Tulip Festival Street Fair in downtown Mount Vernon April 25-27.
A new activity this year is a Volksmarch in the downtown area of Burlington April 12. Hosted by NW Tulip Trekkers, the non-competitive walk is about five miles from the walk. For more information visit tulipfestival.org.
The 81st annual parade, Ready, Set, Grow! starts in Tacoma at 10 a.m. and showcases floats of Daffodils in Puyallup (12:45 p.m.), Sumner (2:30 p.m.) and Orting (5 p.m.). Info: thedaffodilfestival.org.
Washington State Apple Blossom Festival
April 24-May 4
This 11-day festival includes a golf tournament, carnival, food fair, entertainment, arts and crafts fair and parades. Info: appleblossom.org.
Spokane Lilac Festival
The festival features an Armed Forces Torchlight Parade May 17 at 7:45 p.m. and includes a flyover from Fairchild Air Force Base.
In its 79th year, the Rhody Festival includes a grand parade, fashion show and pet parade in honor of the states flower.Info: rhodyfestival.org
Sequim Lavender Festival
A weekend in July celebrates the 110,000 lavender plants grown each year in the area. Info: lavenderfestival.com