Sunday, May 15, 2016

Tulipmania Rediscovered at Gardens by the Bay

At long last! I finally made it to the Tulip festival at Gardens by the Bay. Every year I get wind of this floral extravaganza only after the festival wraps up and I spend the next few days whining about it. Not this siree! Actually the only reason I found out about it was an unexpected glance at the notice board of our condo (which I never do normally) that intimated residents of the tulip festival with tickets on sale. Three cheers to the power of observation!

Anyway, let me clue you in on this festival. Tulipmania is a slice of Netherlands in Singapore. Even the temperature is set to conditions conducive to these spring-growing perennials. These flowers are delicate, and they can last up to eight to 12 days after blooming. This year's edition is the fourth and is said to feature altogether 110,000 tulips, with 60 varieties. A highlight is the Lily Tulip variety, a new addition to the exhibition.

While the Flower Dome in Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay isn’t remotely the same as the Netherlands’ Keukenhof gardens, it is probably the closest you’ll get to being surrounded by beautiful tulips in full bloom, while ensconced in cool temperatures, without flying to Europe. Until I can cross the latter off my bucket list, the Singapore tulip display will have to do!

On a sunny weekday afternoon, we drove down to the Gardens with the kids to cure my tulipmania. Since we had purchased the tickets online and taken a print out at home, we were  able to bypass the serpentine queue at the ticket counter.

As with all seasonal events at Flower Dome, there are usually three display areas: At the entrance, the main foyer and the exit.

The entrance had a few varieties of colorful tulips. It wasn't a big fancy display as I expected though. It catches your attention but doesn't knock your socks off.

History of Tulips

While it is often associated with the Netherlands, tulips are believed to have originated from Central Asia and brought to Turkey by nomadic tribes. The name “tulip” was derived from the shape of the flower that resembled the turban (dulbend or tulband) of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, now known as Turkey.

The Ottoman Empire adored the flower. It was a symbol of life and fertility, and is featured widely in paintings, songs and poems.

Tulips were seen as precious because of their rarity and exotic history. The most expensive cultivar, the Semper Augustus, sold for 10,000 Dutch guilder in 1633.

The flower was worth as much as a grand house in Amsterdam, or half a lifetime's supply of food for an entire family.

About Tulips
  • Tulips come in almost every colour, with different meanings for the hues. For example, red tulips symbolise true love, pink ones convey affection, while purple blooms signify royalty and wealth.
  • Tulips grow up to 2.5cm more after they are cut. Most tulips range from 15 to 70cm.
  • Some tulips are fragrant. Sweet-smelling tulips include the Tulipa Monte Carlo and spicy-smelling ones include the Tulipa Princess Irene.
  • According to the Royal Horticultural Society, seeds should be planted in autumn, as they need a period of frost to germinate. Flowers will appear after four to seven years. All tulips naturally bloom in spring.

When we reached the main foyer, we were dazzled by colourful carpets of tulips in a Middle Eastern-style floral display. My kids were enamoured too. They are familiar with fresh flowers since they see it at home as well as on their daily walks. They kept exclaiming excitedly and my older twin kept saying "wow" as we passed each variety of tulip. Lol!

I gawked at varieties of tulips than I never even knew existed: cup shaped, star shaped, fringed edges, monochrome and variegated colors.

This year, the floral display has been arranged such that visitors can witness a stunning spectacle of tulips set amidst an elegant Persian-inspired backdrop and learn about how the flower originated in the ancient Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey).

Visitors can also get an insight into its significance on Turkish arts and culture.

My knowledge of tulips is abysmal so I will refrain from providing any specific information on them lest I say something wrong and embarrass myself. I think however, I was able to identify one or two species. 

Tulips to look out for


‘Arjuna’ is an example of the Triumph class of tulips. This tulip is deep orange in colour, with small streaks of purple and green.


The award-winning ‘Monte Carlo’ is a double petalled tulip with petals of sulphur yellow. This sturdy tulip received an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

I spent a good chunk of time admiring the gorgeous blooms and taking plenty of pictures.

The colors are simply amazing, arent they? So varied and vivid! It feels like two eyes aren't enough to take in all that beauty!

As we reached the exit, we saw a few more tulips but the display at the exit is nothing that you would have not seen before and therefore rather lacklustre.

Event Details

Duration: 8th Apr 2016 to 22nd May 2016
Timings: 9 am to 9 pm
Venue: Flower Dome

Garden Trail and "Ask Me" Guided Tours

You can pick up a special edition of the Tulipmania Garden Trail map from the counter to navigate your way through the maze of tulips. Or join the free ASK Me! tours where friendly guides share fascinating botanical facts and anecdotes about the floral display.

Tour Dates and Times:
– Daily at 11am and 3pm
– 16 and 17 April from 1 to 6pm
– 7 and 8 May from 1 to 6pm

- Tours last approximately 15 minutes and are available free, on a first-come-first-served basis
- To participate, gather at the “ASK Me!” poster near the Flower Field
- Tours will begin when a group of five or more visitors is assembled
- Tours will not be conducted on Flower Dome closure dates

Ticketing Information

If you are planning to check out Tulipmania, admission prices for local residents are $12 for adults and $8 for senior citizens and children, for one conservatory. Local senior citizens enjoy 50% off admission tickets to the Flower Dome for the duration of Tulipmania. For both conservatories, adults pay $20, children $12 and senior citizens $15.

For non-local residents, the tickets cost $28 (adults/senior citizens) and $15 (children) for both conservatories.

The ticket queue at Gardens by the Bay can get very long. I would suggest booking an e-ticket to the Flower Dome on the official website. You can then print the tickets out from the comfort of home and head straight past the queues to the entrance. If you are a local, remember to bring your ID for the Gardens by the Bay staff to verify that you are entitled to the discounted locals admission prices.

You can book tickets at

A final word of advice - for a more leisurely experience, go on a weekday, as the dome gets more crowded on weekends.


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