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Originally published Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 7:03 PM

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Tulip Festival starts Friday, with daffodils the star so far

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, April 1-30, Mount Vernon, La Conner and surrounding area.

Seattle Times staff

Spring color is the focus at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival fields and display gardens throughout the month of April. Fields of cheerful yellow daffodils are in bloom now and tulip fields are expected to start blooming in the next week or so, depending on the weather.

Display gardens at RoozenGaarde and Tulip Town include dozens of varieties of blooming tulips and other spring bulbs throughout the festival, along with gift shops and a sale of a large variety of cut tulips.

More than 1,000 acres of tulips, daffodils and irises in the Skagit Valley are owned by the Roozen family, bulb growers in Holland and the U.S. since the early 1700s. Their RoozenGaarde display garden, adjacent to a 15-acre tulip field, includes more than 100 varieties of tulips and other spring blooms, featuring a new half-acre of additional tulip plantings this year.

Tulip Town display gardens feature 60 varieties of tulips, including 19 new varieties shown for the first time, trolley tours of the fields and an indoor tulip show for those inevitable rainy spring days.

Agriculture is the largest industry in Skagit County and many other nurseries, farms and wineries welcome visitors with special events throughout April. Tulip Festival attractions include art walks and art displays at several locations and tours by boat, bike, bus and helicopter.

Special events include the Skagit County Historical Museum's Historic Home Tour Saturday, the 2- or 5-mile Tulip Run in Burlington April 9, La Conner's Not So Impromptu Tulip Parade April 9, the Downtown Mount Vernon Street Fair April 15-17 and PACCAR Open House April 16.

The multi-acre flower fields are mostly in a 15-mile triangle bordered by Highway 20, the Skagit River and the Swinomish Channel. Parking is very limited at many locations; the admission ticket to RoozenGaarde includes parking at all their tulip fields.

Complete details on all Tulip Festival events, venues, places to stay in the area and other local resources are on the festival website and in brochures available at the festival office and many other locations. To avoid the largest crowds, visit on weekdays or in the early morning or late afternoon on weekends. Daily bloom updates are available by calling the Tulip Festival office and online at www.tulips.com/bloommap.cfm.

The details

Tulip Town: Starting Friday; 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily, later when weather permits; 5002 Bradshaw Road, Mount Vernon; admission $5, $4/military with ID, ages 16 and younger free; no pets; trolley rides $1-$2, free trolley rides on Wednesdays; 360-424-8152 or www.tuliptown.com.

RoozenGaarde: Starting Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, 15867 Beaver Marsh Road, Mount Vernon; admission $5, $4/military with ID, ages 10 and younger free; no pets; 360-424-8531 or www.tulips.com.

Getting there: About 60 miles north of Seattle, take Interstate 5 exits 221 to 236 and go west into the valley. Fields and festival sites throughout the Skagit Valley, information available online; brochure available at Skagit Valley Tulip Festival office, 100 E. Montgomery St., Mount Vernon, and numerous locations throughout the festival area.

More information: 360-428-5959 or www.tulipfestival.org.

Madeline McKenzie: 206-464-8245 or mmckenzie@seattletimes.com

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