International Tulip Festival, Istanbul, 2011

The tulip festival attracts many visitors, and is a great place for a picnic

Istanbul is awash with Tulips at this time of year, and has been every spring since 2006. It is the time of the International Tulip Festival. Millions of tulips are planted all over the city, in parks, avenues, road verges, and traffic circles; in fact anywhere there is a space for them. One of the best displays is found in Ermigan Park. This is one of the largest public parks in Istanbul, covering 100 acres. So, one Sunday, Sue and I took our cameras and headed off across the Bosphorus to see for ourselves.

I loved these gorgeous pink tulips

Why tulips especially, one may ask? Although today tulips are usually associated with Holland, they only arrived there in the 16th century from the Ottoman Empire. Evidence of the early existence of the tulip, called "lale" in Turkish, can be found in the many Ottoman paintings and decorations that survive in Istanbul.

This tulip with the pointed petals is called the Sultan's Tulip

The bridge over a river of grape hyacinths, edged with tulips

More of the River of Flowers

The tulips usually bloom from around the end of March, or beginning of April, and last for several weeks. The display in Ermigan Park is amazing in the colour and variety of tulips, as well as the design of the tulip beds.

A tulip bed in the shape of a butterfly

Ermigan Park, Istanbul, is the place to visit in the spring.

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