In its fourth year featuring Celebridee, the Canadian Tulip Festival has become so huge and so well-attended that the festival’s executive director is sure it’ll become “one of the world’s great cultural festivals.

“It’s the best year ever, there’s no question,” said Julian Armour.

Festival attendance, which topped half a million last year, is “honing in on 600,000 this year,” said Armour.

The festival, which wrapped yesterday, enjoyed crowds this past long weekend despite rain Saturday, said Canadian Tulip Festival spokesman Connor McGuire.

While Commissioner’s Park was packed, Major’s Hill Park, which featured the vintage carnival, was also well-attended, as was the International Pavilion at Lansdowne Park and the Mirror Tent at city hall’s Festival Plaza.

Celebridee was a huge success, with nearly every show sold out through the run of the festival.

“It’s obviously a festival which is varied in scope,” McGuire said. “It was a big change and a big risk for us, but it worked out well, and this year, we’re seeing our efforts come to fruition.”

The tulips, of course, were big attractions, McGuire said. “There were people coming from southern Ontario, Germany, Japan and even National Geographic.”

While the Nanjing acrobatic group enjoyed consistently sold-out shows, other popular events included speaking engagements by Margaret Atwood and Rick Mercer, as well as performances of Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas this weekend.

In addition to bringing big names to Ottawa, the festival was great for tourism, said Armour, who predicted that the economic impact was “many millions” of dollars.

“All the hotels were full — 40 per cent of the people we bring in are from out of town,” he said. “This promotes Ottawa as a really cultural city and gets people in the mood of going out to festivals for the rest of the summer and in the fall.

“This is very good for the economy of the city.”

It’s barely over for another year, but Armour is already working on next year’s festival — and he’s already got an opener for Celebridee.

“We’re opening with Bob Geldof next year,” he said. “People from all over the world will want to hear him speak.”

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