Are you ready to break free from winter? There’s no better place to get in the mood for spring than at a flower festival. Whether you love to get out in the yard and tend to flowers yourself or you’re more of an armchair gardener, annual “bloom” festivals heat up each spring. Revel at these fantastic garden shows in Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington state.
1. Attend Dallas Blooms in Texas (February 29–April 12)
Photo courtesy of Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
One of the top floral display gardens in North America, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden hosts Dallas Blooms. This top flower festival bursts into a blooming extravaganza beginning in late February and continuing through mid-April. Whether you’re a gardener or simply enjoy the sights and smells of beautiful flowers, a day or two of walking the arboretum’s grounds is a lovely way to prep for spring.
With more than 500,000 tulips and 100 varieties of spring bulbs, there’s plenty of blooming fun to go around. Live music, book signings, lectures, tasting and cooking classes, children's activities and special Easter events complete the experience. The Dallas Arboretum allows guests to bring in food and drink, so why not picnic among the mass of azalea blooms that peak in April?
Driving distance: 1 hour from Fort Worth, Texas | 3 hours from Austin, Texas | 3 hours 30 minutes from Houston, Texas and Shreveport, Louisiana | 4 hours from San Antonio, Texas
2. Count the flowers at Biltmore Blooms in Asheville, North Carolina (April 1–May 21)
Photo courtesy of The Biltmore Company
American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted stretched spring into three months when he designed the gardens at Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina. In early spring, daffodils and forsythia illuminate the gardens with a bright yellow glow, while 1,000 blooming orchids decorate the conservatory. Next, 96,000 tulips show their vibrant hues before the blossoms of native azalea, rhododendron, roses, annuals and perennials complete the blooming cycle.
The festival offers gardening advice, concerts and more. Children will have a blast petting baby goats, lambs, chicks and bunnies at the barnyard in Antler Hill Village or stomping grapes at weekend winery events. A daytime admission ticket includes a self-guided tour inside the Biltmore House, including access to the historic gardens and Antler Hill Village. Save $10 by purchasing tickets in advance. The Biltmore also offers $10 off the ticket price to military veterans and seniors.
Lesson-plan pesources: Learn about honeybees in the garden.
Driving distances: 2 hours from Knoxville, Tennessee and Charlotte, North Carolina | 3 hours and 30 minutes from Atlanta, Georgia | 4 hours from Roanoke, Virginia
3. Celebrate Holland at the Philadelphia Flower Show (February 20–March 8)
Photo courtesy of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
The 2020 Philadelphia Flower Show invites you to fall in love with gardening all over again, as this year’s theme is posed to inspire you to recreate an exotic Mediterranean garden of your own. Think citrus groves, terraced gardens filled with fragrant lavender, a mosaic of various scented blooms and herb parterres, dotted here and there with well-placed pergolas, ornate pottery, patterned tiles and pretty fountains. Held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, this year’s floral experience focuses on the theme “Riviera Holiday,” highlighting the coastal region’s sustainable and lower-maintenance flora. The world’s largest and oldest indoor flower show will be packed with displays, lectures and people.
Driving distance: 1 hour from Trenton, New Jersey | 1 hours 30 minutes from Dover, Delaware | 2 hours from Baltimore, Maryland and New York, New York | 3 hours from Washington, D.C. | 5 hours from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
4. Tiptoe through the tulips in Skagit Valley, Washington (April 1–30)
Photo by Adull Petchsanguansri courtesy of Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Photo Contest
You’ve probably seen photos of the tulip fields in Washington state’s Skagit Valley. The patchwork of vibrant colors—tulip crops from RoozenGaarde/Washington Bulb Co., Inc., and Tulip Town—are the centerpiece of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Bring your camera for a self-driving tour of the fields that stretch from Mount Vernon and Burlington to La Conner. Better yet, take a bicycle tour. When you tire of tulip watching, enjoy an art show, attend a concert or tour local shellfish or cheese operations.
Driving distance: 30 minutes from Bellingham, Washington | 1 hour from Seattle, Washington | 3 hours from Yakima, Washington | 4 hours from Portland, Oregon
5. Celebrate history at the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival in Michigan (June 5–14)
Photo courtesy of Mackinac Island Lilac Festival
For 10 days in June, lilacs are the stars on this car-free island in Michigan. Stroll Mackinac’s streets and country lanes where some of North America’s oldest living lilacs scent the air with their heady fragrance. But there’s more to the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival besides touring purple-colored gardens. Join the festival’s 10K run or the cornhole tournament, and enjoy free concerts, a dog and pony show, tours and many more family-friendly events. But whatever you do, don’t miss the horse-drawn carts and carriages, decorated with lilacs, of course, in the Lilac Festival Grand Parade.
Lesson-plan resources: Introduce your students to living and working at Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse.
Driving distance: 3 hours 30 minutes from Traverse City, Michigan | 4 hours 30 minutes from Lansing, Michigan | 5 hours from Grand Rapids, Michigan | 6 hours from Detroit, Michigan