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

Federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole speaks during a virtual South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce town hall on Saturday, March 6, 2021.
O’Toole says South Surrey, White Rock face ‘acute’ challenges during pandemic

Federal Conservative leader speaks at local chamber town hall

A sign encouraging COVID-19 safety steps, with the Bayside rugby clubhouse – located adjacent to Semiahmoo Secondary and the South Surrey track – in background; Jan. 6, 2021. (Photo: Tracy Holmes)
Surrey sees 2,400 new COVID-19 cases in February

This is the lowest monthly increase since last fall

Liberty roses – created by acclaimed rose breeder Brad Jalbert – will be planted in White Rock later this month. (Contributed photo)
‘Liberty Rose’ to be planted along Johnston Road and at White Rock City Hall

Poppy-like rose created by acclaimed rose breeder Brad Jalbert

South Surrey’s Kirk Arsenault has started a new company, Str8laced, that sells cleat wraps that aim to keep athletes’ shoes from coming untied during games and practices. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey sports equipment entrepreneur tying up loose ends before Alberta move

Str8laced wraps keep laces from coming loose in the middle of play, says Kirk Arsenault

Volunteers from Semiahmoo Secondary joined with members of the Lower Mainland Green Team and the White Rock and South Surrey Naturalists Wednesday to remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park. (Contributed photo)
Students, volunteers remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park

Day-long project a collaboration between city, Lower Mainland Green Team

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his 'Community Connections' videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Denise Stevenson

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

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

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

The family of injured Willoughby resident Ronald Gerald Jesso is hoping someone saw something that will help solve the mystery of how he came to be so badly hurt on the morning of Feb. 22. Jesso is still in hospital. (Jesso family/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An appeal to help solve the mystery of an injured Langley man

Family of Ronald Gerald Jesso asks witnesses to come forward

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Most Read