At the time of writing, I’m keeping a watching brief. The dates of the Arundel Tulip Festival have not been announced yet but are expected to be in early April. That’s because the festival is of course weather dependent and despite last week’s sunshine, this week has been colder. That said, the Tulip Festival is not to be missed, and last year, I was lucky enough to be one of the first through the gates.
Most people who live in Sussex are familiar with Arundel Castle. It dominates the local landscape as well as Arundel town, but even then, it’s easy to forget quite how magnificent it is. That is, until you pass through the castle gates and go round the first corner of the path and see it rising up before you. It’s daunting, it’s splendid and it is inspirational!
With the first castle here being established in the 11th century, the current building was remodelled and restored in the 18th and 19th centuries by the 11th Duke of Norfolk in a Gothic architectural style. It’s a Grade I listed building and still owned by the Duke of Norfolk, Earl Of Arundel. And it’s always worth a visit, inside and out.
The Tulip Festival
Each year, in April, Arundel hosts a Tulip Festival in the grounds and it is quite simply … breathtaking. Admittedly, I chose a brilliantly sunny day with blue skies in abundance but even so, I wasn’t expecting quite such a fantastic display in quite such a beautiful setting. There are over 120,000 tulips in bloom and over 130 varieties to see, so take your time. This is a riotous celebration of colour, form, and nature, the likes of which I haven’t seen elsewhere in Sussex.
As you arrive, you meander up the path past the feet of the castle with a red carpet of tulips spread out in front of it and make your way to a walled garden. There are tulips along the way of course, and a sense of calm and serenity within the grounds.
The Collector Earl’s Garden
The main part of the display is within The Collector Earl’s Garden and this, in its own right, is a stunning little corner, with symmetrical water gardens and gold finishing touches as well as oak Pagodas and Oberon’s Palace with a floating crown. All with beautiful architectural backdrops of the castle.
The minute you enter through the regal gates you feel a sense of enchantment with tantalising glimpses of the Cathedral through floral arches.
From here, just gently meander, soaking up the colours, the vibrancy, the floral scents. Look back, look forward, wander up paths, enjoy the stumpery and on a sunny day, listen to the trickle of the water fountains and imagine you’re in Rome, Versailles or somewhere very exotic. This is unadulterated pleasure.
There are probably no photos that can truly do justice to the Tulip Festival, you just have to visit in person.
Once you’ve had your fill (I went around three times), just stroll back down through the grounds past the cork tree. The castle interior opens today (1st April) or you can just enjoy exploring the moat and imposing battlements, which give you the wow factor all over again!
If you like Arundel Tulip Festival, you may also be interested in: