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100,000 vibrant tulips are taking over San Francisco's Union Square on March 7

Written by
Howard Halle

Tulip mania is about to hit The City by the Bay in a major way: On Saturday March 7, the third annual edition of Flower Bulb Day 2020 will be painting San Francisco's Union Square in a botanical palette of rainbow colors, thanks to a temporarily installed garden planted with 100,000 fully grown tulips. You heard that right—100,000 tulips and they are free for the picking!

Photograph: Courtesy Flower Bulb Day 2020

The event runs from 1–4:30pm, and visitors can garner early spring bouquets of up to 15 tulips per person. The floral bounty comes courtesy of Royal Anthos, a Dutch trader in flower bulbs, which, along with other growers from the European Union, exports more than one billion bulbs to the United States, spanning some 100 species that include lilies, hyacinths, daffodils, dahlias and gladioli. But while the bulbs come from the EU, the flowers at the event were grown here in the U.S.A.

Photograph: Courtesy Flower Bulb Day 2020

People have a long-held fascination for tulips. Originally cultivated in Iran in the 10th century, they were introduced to Europe from Turkey in the 1400s. They fast became status symbols for the wealthy, especially in Holland; there, during the original tulip mania of the 1640s, they caused an economic meltdown thanks to a three-year-long speculative bubble in which the price of bulbs rocketed to as high as $750,000 in today's dollars before crashing down to earth.

Photograph: Courtesy Flower Bulb Day 2020

But as previously mentioned, the tulips at Flower Bulb Day come gratis—which is why crowds at last year’s event were huge, and why the garden was picked clean by the end of the day. So, come early!

And while you’re in San Francisco, be sure to also check out our recommendations for the best things to do in the city, including the best places to eat, the best bars to grab a drink, the best museums and parks to visit and also the best spots to go hiking.  

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