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Spring Festival gets under way at the Botanic Garden next weekend with the ever popular Tulip Sunday – a great opportunity to enjoy one of the country’s biggest and best tulip displays as well as music, Dutch dancing and food.
The annual festival (28 September – 12 October) is the time to enjoy the Garden at its most colourful and includes more than 50 events and activities. Children take centre-stage as the festival runs throughout the school holidays but there is something for everyone from Tulip Sunday on 28 September (11.30am to 3.00pm) through to the family picnic on Sunday 12 October (1.00pm -3.00pm). As well as some 25,000 tulips, other spring flowers including magnolias and azaleas will be blooming.
The Council's Environment Portfolio Leader, Councillor Celia Wade-Brown, says Tulip Sunday is great way to celebrate spring and the first day of daylight saving – something people will need to bear in mind if they are planning to come along. This year's festival also marks the 60th anniversary of the first mass planting of spring bulbs at the Botanic Garden.
"The government of the Netherlands gave the city nearly 20,000 bulbs in 1948 in gratitude for New Zealanders' hospitality to Dutch refugees after World War Two," Cr Wade-Brown says. "Our tulip bulbs now come from Southland but Wellington's Dutch community still provides the traditional food, music and dancing that helps make Tulip Sunday so special. Events like this are great way to experience and celebrate the city's ethnic diversity."
Wellington Cable Car Ltd has once again agreed to support the festival by allowing people to exchange the voucher in this year's festival brochure for one free uphill ride between midday and 2.00pm any day during the festival.
"People will then be able to follow the distinctive pink and purple painted flowers on the footpath from the top of the Cable Car downhill to the tulips and back to the city via Bolton Street Memorial Park. This is a fantastic walk at any time of the year, achievable during a lunch break and a great way to celebrate the end of a very wet winter."
This year's festival has plenty for everyone including a lunchtime business house challenge, guided garden walks at the Botanic Garden and Otari-Wilton's Bush, an organised buggy walk and a guided tour for people with limited mobility. Children can meet farm animals, enjoy tree climbing, storytelling, outdoor games, glow-worm tours, bouncy castles and a scavenger hunt. Resthomes and elderly groups can arrange to drive around the tulips before 10.00am and after 3.00pm on weekdays.
Most events are free, though some are by donation or have a small charge, and bookings are required in some cases. Full details are available on the website or in brochures available from libraries or by phoning (04) 499 4444.