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Celebrate five centuries of horticultural history at Hampton Court Palace’s Tulip Festival: 14 April - 1 May 2023

This spring, Hampton Court Palace will burst into colour as over 110,000 bulbs bloom for the UK’s biggest display of planted tulips. Visitors are invited to celebrate the most coveted flower of the 17th century from 14 April – 1 May, with dramatic displays of tulips taking over the formal gardens and historic cobbled courtyards of the palace.

Hampton Court Palace has long been associated with the famous Dutch flower, first introduced in the British Isles in the 1630s. Former resident Queen Mary II, who ruled jointly with King William III, was a keen horticulturist and collected plants from across the globe to feature in their gardens at the palace, including the prized tulip.

Unique to Hampton Court Palace’s dazzling Tulip Festival is a selection of heirloom bulbs, displaying five centuries of historic cultivars in the Lower Orangery Garden. Visitors will have the chance to see rare tulips as they would have looked in William and Mary’s time, as well as other specialist historic varieties, thanks to a special relationship with Hortus Bulborum, in the Netherlands. Specially selected cultivars joining this year’s display, which are not commercially available, include Sylvestris (1595) and Rubella Broken (1700), contrasted alongside more recent flowers such as Orange King (1903) and Queen of the Night (1940).

New for this year, 3000 wine-toned tulips, including the aptly named ‘merlot’ variety, will flow from the steps and parapet of the iconic courtyard Wine Fountain, inspired by a similar one in a painting dating back to Henry VIII. The Gardens and Estates teams have created a floral fantasy across the courtyards of the Tudor palace, with joyfully named tulips such as Raspberry Ripple, Apricot Emperor and Purple Prince spilling from wheelbarrows, barrels and even a horse cart. Visitors should also look out for a fabulous display of free-style tulip planting in the Kitchen Garden, inspired by Van Gogh’s 1883 painting Bulb Fields.

The historic gardens at Hampton Court Palace are cared for using a variety of sustainable methods, working in partnership with nature. Each of the 110,000 bulbs featured in the display were hand-planted by the Palace’s dedicated team of gardeners, and they have lain dormant under the soil since October, waiting for warmer days. This year, a small number of beds in the gardens will be remain unplanted in order to rest the soil health and promote organic recovery, ensuring that future festivals can bloom just as beautifully as this one.

Graham Dillamore, Head Gardener at Hampton Court Palace, said, “We’re so excited to welcome visitors back into our gardens at Hampton Court Palace with the return of our annual Tulip Festival this April. It was all hands on deck in September and October as our gardening team planted over 100,000 individual bulbs throughout the gardens and courtyards, with varieties spanning five centuries carefully selected to bloom in the spring. Now it’s all down to nature!”

Visitors are invited to join two Tulip Talks each day with Hampton Court’s Palace Hosts, as they delve into the history of the famous flower – from it’s origins and fashionable status, to it’s links to William III and Mary II.

Once they’ve been dazzled by an abundance of tulips, visitors are invited to explore the interiors of Hampton Court Palace – from Henry VIII’s State Apartments to the glorious baroque additions made by William and Mary. A day out at this historic royal residence is never complete without a visit to the impressive Henry VIII’s Kitchens, or a chance for visitors to transport themselves back to the 16th century in the Great Hall designed for Anne Boleyn.

For more information and to book, visit https://www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace/whats-on/tulip-festival/

Notes to editors

The Hampton Court Palace Tulip Festival runs from 14 April – 1 May 2023 and is included in the cost of palace admission. Find out more about the Tulip Festival here: https://www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace/whats-on/tulip-festival/

For further information or images, please contact Jessica England in the HRP Press Office via [email protected] / 020 3166 6166

Historic Royal Palaces is a team of people who love and look after six of the most wonderful palaces in the world. We create space for spirits to stir and be stirred. We want everyone to feel welcome and accepted. We tell stories about the monarchs you know and the lives you don’t. We let people explore and we set minds racing. We are a charity and your support gives the palaces a future, for everyone.

Registered charity number 1068852. For more information visit www.hrp.org.uk

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