Newport Daffodil Festival Spreads Sunshine

Newport Daffodil Festival

Newport Daffodil Days are here again! It’s time to celebrate the annual rite of spring when long-dormant lawns and gardens across New England transform into lush carpets of yellow as hundreds of thousands of daffodils push through the earth and turn their trumpet-shaped faces to bask in the sun.

While it’s unclear exactly when or where the first official fête of daffodils took place in New England, Newport, RI hosts one of the region’s most extensive celebrations. Set for April 15–23, the year’s Newport Daffodil Festival kicks off with an Opening Ceremony (April 15, 1 p.m.–2 p.m.) at Bowen’s Wharf and Bannister’s Wharf. Opening festivities include a daffodil ribbon cutting, games, live music, a conga line and the crowning of the Daffodil Queen.

The community-wide event features a full roster of daffodil-themed events and activities including a doggie parade, a bike race, a stroll, a fling and a silent auction. Hotel Viking gets in on the daffy action with a donation to the Spring Fling silent auction (April 17), one of the festival’s signature events. Pick up festival information and “Daffy Deal” pins at the hotel front desk, and be sure to ask about daffy-licious food and beverage specials at One Bellevue. Visitors who stop by Hotel Viking for information, hotel guests and dining patrons will also notice a nod to festival daffiness in the form of floral arrangements.

“We love to keep the lobby filled with bright, vibrant flowers throughout the spring and summer season,” said Jackie Maroney, marketing and executive communications coordinator, Hotel Viking. “Daffodils are perfect in floral arrangements to brighten up our lobby at this time of year. We like to think that daffodils in bloom are an early sign of warm sunshine coming our way.”

Make no mistake: The Newport Daffodil Festival isn’t all about fun and games. There’s a competitive element, too. Launched in 2006, Newport’s Daffodillion Campaign is a grassroots effort to earn Newport the official title “Daffiest City in New England” by encouraging the planting of 1 million daffodil bulbs within city limits. At last official count, the bulb tally was 681,750 – and growing. Through sponsorships and by earmarking some of the proceeds from official Newport Daffodil Festival events, Daffodillion, part of the Alliance for a Livable Newport, a 501 (3) (c) organization, distributes bulbs to Newport residents and businesses each fall.

Individuals who want to support the initiative can make donations in any amount. A donation of $378 (significant because Newport was founded 378 years ago) qualifies the donor to membership in the Daffodillion Founders Club and funds the distribution of 1,639 daffodil bulbs (a nod to the year 1639 when Newport was founded). Mail donation checks, made out to ALN-Daffodillion, to ALN- Daffodillion, PO Box 2636, Newport, RI 02840 or donate online.

Daffy days are here again!