Tulipmania Time on Pier 39

San Franciscans and other Bay Area residents who usually avoid the vibrant but touristy Pier 39 section of the waterfront often make an exception each February, as the vivid colors of Tulipmania take over the pier’s planters and walkways. Usually starting right after Valentine’s Day, Tulipmania runs for a little over a week and takes over both levels of the pier, offering residents and visitors alike a chance to enjoy guided landscaping tours and view these stunning flowers.

The name of this annual event comes from a footnote in history. In The Netherlands in the early 1600s, a speculative market in the value of tulip bulbs grew wildly out of control. The market became so volatile and outrageous that at its peak, a bulb from an especially prized specimen could command prices up to 10 times the annual salary of a carpenter, furniture maker or other skilled craftsman. In 1637, the market collapsed, forcing the Dutch government to step in and enact regulations in order to prevent prolonged economic hardship.

The organizers of Tulipmania on Pier 39 have wisely enacted their own measures to prevent economic hardship, as this annual event is free! More than 30,000 individual tulip bulbs are planted in wine barrels, around 100 in each barrel, which line the bridges and walkways on the pier. Tulip bulbs bloom for only two weeks at best, so organizers carefully plan and plant a variety of early, mid-season and late blooming varieties at staggered times so that they all reach their glorious peaks for Tulipmania. The end result is a spectacular eruption of color for everyone to enjoy.

You can visit Pier 39 anytime during Tulipmania to enjoy the lovely array of colors, but if you’d like to learn more about cultivation tips and other information, your best bet is to take one of the guided tours starting at 10 a.m. each morning. Participants receive complimentary refreshments at the end of each tour and the tours are easy to walk, with few steps or inclines. So if a burst of color can warm your heart and chase the chill of a late winter’s day, grab your camera, an extra layer or two and head down to Tulipmania on Pier 39! For more information, visit http://www.pier39.com/home/events/tulipmania/.