A month-long version of Tulip Festival kicks off next week with in-person tulip tours and virtual entertainment.
The festival traditionally takes place on Mother’s Day weekend and attracts thousands of people from the Capital Region and beyond to downtown Albany. For the second year in a row, because of the pandemic, organizers have had to create a virtual version of the festival.
“Last year, when the pandemic first hit we left the offices around March 16th or 17th. We really didn’t know what was going to happen and we decided that we were going to do a Tulip Festival Day video,” said Ryan Murray, public relations coordinator for the Office of Cultural Affairs in Albany.
The virtual celebration was about five hours long and while it was a success, Murray said organizers knew they needed to do something different this year.
Nearly every day in May they’ll release a video of an artist performing, a kids program, a yoga class, etc. While the entire lineup has not yet been announced, Murray said that the festival will include regional performing artists like Girl Blue.
“We’ll have some bands playing on our pages that normally would play at Tulip Festival but we’re going to be doing unique videos with them, not just them at their house. We’re doing some gorilla video shoots where we’re not telling anybody what’s going on, the videos will be played in a unique area,” Murray said.
Beyond that, they’ll have a virtual performance from Park Playhouse, readings from the RED Bookshelf, and a magic show from Melvin the Magnificent.
As far as in-person programming goes, Tulip Tours will run from Monday through Friday, May 14, with four tours each day. Eight people will be allowed on a tour at a time. To sign up, visit eventbrite.com.
Another festival tradition, the crowning of the Tulip Queen, will have to be delayed until later this year.
“The pandemic makes it a little bit trickier for the Tulip Queen process. We have to interview people on Zoom and we usually do a little in-person gathering for the candidates and to pull that off we need to narrow the field down . . so it takes longer,” Murray said.
The ceremony will be held sometime in June and will be live-streamed. The Capital Region Mother of the Year ceremony will also be held later this year.
Adapting Tulip Festival to a hybrid in-person and virtual event has been a challenging process.
“The major challenge is to figure out a way to have people enjoy the festival safely one more time before we can hopefully next year get back to our regular way of doing it. We want people to enjoy it and have a good time with it but want [people] to still be safe and that’s the tricky part,” Murray said.
However, people have been quick to step in and help.
“It’s good because so many people are so invested in this festival and they want to see people enjoy it. Many people, as soon as we said we were going to do stuff last year and this year [said] ‘Whatever we can do to help, we want to be a part of it.’ So that has been very good,” Murray said.
The videos will be released on Facebook (@AlbanyNYEvents), YouTube (Albany Events) and albanyevents.org.
More from The Daily Gazette: