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Skagit Valley Tulips at Roozengaarde Gardens in 2019 (Photo: Sunita Martini, Seattle Refined)

Plan ahead: Skagit Valley Tulip Festival will have a few changes for COVID-19

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. -- The tulips will soon be in bloom up in Skagit County this April and crowds are expected to flock to the fields to catch a glimpse at the colorful display, especially since the fields were closed in 2020 due to the burgeoning pandemic.

This year, the fields will be open at both Tulip Town and Roozengaarde, but with some COVID-19 restrictions that will require some planning ahead.

Both fields will now require advanced ticket purchases that will limit your stay to a specific window of time in an effort to keep crowd sizes down to allow better social distancing.

Tulip Town, featuring 5 acres of colorful tulips, will sell tickets in either 3-hour windows in the morning and midday hours, and 2-hour windows in the afternoon and evening. The fields open April 1 at 8 a.m. and will remain open every day in April through 7 p.m., though photographers can purchase a special pass that will allow a total of 30 photographers and subjects all-day access to the fields, including pre-opening times for sunrise photos.

Andrew Miller says they figure with the space in their fields they could have fit as many as 16,000 people and still keep them 6 feet part, but don't worry it won't be that crowded. Their ticketing will be designed to average just 1,000 people there at any given hour, allowing plenty of room to spread out and also not photobomb other's photos.

"Nobody wants anyone else in their pictures," Miller said, adding that helps drive their innovation for field design.

Miller said they've already had some practice enacting COVID safety measures from their pumpkin farm sales last autumn and that they will have staff out in the fields to make sure that people not only stay out of the rows, but keep their distance from others.

"We have high confidence we can provide a safe and enjoyable farm experience this year," Miller said.

The Tulip Trolley will be running and they will have their indoor tulip garden, local artists booths and a new farm-to-table cafe ready to go as well. Also returning will be much of the virtual tulip experiences they designed last year when the fields were closed.

"We kept a lot of the playbook we had from last year and will be open to the joy of collecting tulips in person," he said.

General admission tickets cost $10 for adults and children 12 and over, $5 for kids 6-11 with kids under 5 free.

Roozengaarde with its 5-acre garden and 25-acre tulip field is also selling daily tickets to limit attendance. Tickets are sold with entrance times spaced every 15 minutes and visitors are asked to limit stays to 2 hours. Tickets cost $15 for all ages 2 and older.

Visitors can begin heading to their fields as early as March 26 through the end of April and tickets are available for visits between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Both fields are requiring all visitors to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

And both fields stress that the date of tulip blooms varies each year depending on the spring weather. A cooler March will mean a later bloom and this year's cool and wet March is leaning in that direction.

MORE | Is sunny, warm weather ever a bad thing for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival?

Festival organizers suggest planning on between April 5-19 for best chance to be within the tulip bloom window.

If you're planning on heading to both fields, organizers suggest picking one for a morning time slot arrival and the other for an afternoon arrival, giving at least two hours' time between each garden to allow for travel time amid the crowds from one field to the other.

"Tulips are emblematic of spring and if we ever needed a spring coming out of the COVID restraints, this is it," Miller said. "Spring has a zip code, and it's Tulip Town."