Tulip Festival preliminary schedule released

A preliminary schedule is released only 9 days before the start of the 61st edition of Ottawa's Tulip Festival.

The news came 8 days after festival was supposed to release its programming

The 61st edition of Ottawa's Tulip Festival gets started in just nine days, but a preliminary schedule was only released on Wednesday.

The information came eight days after the festival was supposed to release its programming information, April 16.

"Well it is a challenge if you don't have programming information until just a week before the event itself," said Jantine Van Kregten, a spokeswoman for Ottawa Tourism.

Jantine Van Kregten is a spokesperson for Ottawa Tourism. (CBC)

"However, what we like to say at Ottawa Tourism is, the tulips are the star of the show. We know the tulips are in the ground and they're coming up," she said.

"Even if we don't have every I dotted and every T crossed, we know that there's going to be great activities," said Kregten.

Website and funding delay schedule release

Tulip Festival organizers are busy making last-minute preparations at their offices in downtown Ottawa, including a new website, which went live on Wednesday.

The festival's spokesman, Allan Wigney, said waiting for the new site was partially to blame for the delay.

"Putting together a website and an app and all these things, it gets done when it gets done and patience is appreciated," said Wigney.

But the new website wasn't the only factor. Waiting for government funding to come through also played a role, said David Luxton, the festival's volunteer chair.

David Luxton is the festival's volunteer chair. (CBC)

According to Luxton, government funding to the festival was cut by 50 per cent this year, to $300,000.

"Well it does make it a scramble. It's a tough way to run any kind of an operation, and this is a small, not-for-profit, charitable organization that really tries to punch above its weight, and does," Luxton said.

Festival organizers found out the total amount they were going to receive only three weeks ago. But they say they've been able to make up the shortfall through corporate sponsorships and partnerships.

The Tulip Festival's total budget this year is about $1 million.

This isn't the first time the Tulip Festival has been late out of the starting gate. Last year, when the festival moved off National Capital Commission land and into the streets, some in the tourism industry complained that festival organizers didn't leave enough time to adequately promote the event.

This year, despite being late again, Wigney said he and the festival have been in touch with tour groups and tourism magazines about what's going on.

"A specific schedule, of course it would have been nice to get it out earlier," said Wigney.

Mammoth undertaking

"Sure, a lot of people want to plan these things well in advance but the tulips, they knew the tulips would be there, so a lot of the people that come, come more for the festival itself than any specific attraction within it," Wigney said.

"It's a handful of people trying to put on, in this case, an 18-day festival that's spread out across the entire downtown and four different locations, essentially ... It's a little bit of every other festival, so it's a pretty mammoth undertaking."

Live music is returning to the festival in a big way this year. Manotick band Hollerado will be headlining on opening night, May 3, at the Tulip Plaza stage on the grounds of City Hall.

Local acts Ukrainia and the Dusty Drifters will also be playing, along with Delbert and the Commotions from Detroit and the Lincolns from Toronto. DJs from the Netherlands will also be performing.

Other festival highlights include an event showcasing the city's new street food vendors, as well as speaker's events and a Mad Hatter's Tea Party in the Glebe over the Mother's Day weekend.

The festival runs from May 3 to May 20 at four main locations: Little Italy, the Glebe, Elgin Street and City Hall. Fireworks will happen on May 19 at Dows Lake.

The Tulip Festival honours Canada’s role in freeing the Dutch during the Second World War. The tulip was a gift to the Canadian people for providing a safe harbour to the Dutch Royal Family during the war.