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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Tulip Peeping Guide and Etiquette

There's no tip-toeing around it - it's Tulip Season in the Capital District.

I've lived in the Albany area for most of my life but really only made going to the tulip gardens near Washington Parks' Moses Statue a tradition in the past several years. In that time, I've noticed some tips I wanted to pass along to those tulip peeping neophytes, or maybe even those experienced tulip connoisseurs, to make your visit a bit more enjoyable for yourself and everyone else.


The most convenient place to park to see the tulips during the week - NOT during the Tulip Festival - is the park road that runs parallel to Madison Avenue near the Moses Statue. With the nice weather, that row fills up quick but during the day/during the week, there's still a lot of park parking nearby.

During Tulip Festival, parking becomes a bit harder. Though not impossible, you definitely have to be patient and persistent, possible circling the same blocks a few times hoping someone has left, or park further out and enjoy the spring weather.

When to go

This depends on what kind of experience you want. I just went over to see the tulips this afternoon, and many of the flowers were not yet blooming. If you want to see them at their peak, then this weekend and early next week should be good.

If you want to enjoy the live music, crafts, food vendors, and people watching - definitely go this weekend for the Tulip Festival.

But, if you want some alone time with the flowers for photos and meditation, you may want to consider going the week prior next year and/or sometime next week.

The Tulips
There are some 75,000 tulips and 150 varieties that can be enjoyed, according to city of Albany officials. And this is completely free.

They can be found throughout Washington Park, but especially near the Moses Statue which is close to Madison Avenue and not far from the Washington Park Lakehouse, where they have the Washington Park Playhouse in the summer.

Especially this time of the season, you'll notice that there are few times during the day when there aren't people admiring the flowers. So, please be considerate of your fellow tulip tourists.

Some tips: If someone is photographing the flowers you want to photograph, wait a few minutes and go to another bed of flowers instead while you wait.
Be mindful of people doing family/engagement/wedding photo shoots (but note that they should be mindful of you, too).
Wear sunscreen/bring water.
Make an afternoon of it by bringing some food and wine.
Get there early for benches, or bring your own chair.

Finally, this may sound a bit obvious, but stop and smell the roses - er, tulips. Photograph them, sure. But use a couple of your other senses, too. One of my favorite things is comparing the smells and textures.

And, if you like what you see, you have the opportunity after the Tulip Festival to acquire some of the bulbs pretty cheaply.


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