The Daffodil Festival takes place in Pierce County, Washington, largely in the cities of Tacoma and Puyallup. It’s a festival with almost a century of history behind it and consisting of a number of events, parades, and a pageant to elect a royal daffodil court from local high schools. Along with many attractions and museums, watching the parades can be one of the best things to do in Tacoma, especially if you have children.
More information about each year’s specific events can be found at the festival website.
Daffodil Festival History
Daffodils have been grown in the Puyallup Valley since about 1925, with the Daffodil Festival starting rather informally in 1926 when a Sumner couple hosted a garden party to show off daffodils blooming around their home. This garden party became a yearly event and eventually grew to be a great draw of local visitors. In 1934, the Daffodil Parade started and there has been a parade each year since, excluding the years during World War II (1943-45).
The main Daffodil parade is called the Grand Floral Street Parade and has routes through four Pierce County towns—Tacoma, Puyallup, Orting, and Sumner. There are about 40 floats included in the parade, all decorated with daffodil blooms, and approximately 80 other groups as well, including marching bands.
The Tacoma route is usually through downtown Tacoma along Pacific Avenue. The Puyallup route goes through the older part of Puyallup near Main Street. The Sumner route also travels along or near this town’s Main Street. The Orting route generally starts near Washington Avenue. Generally, before or after the parades are more events and family-friendly fun.
The Daffodil Junior Parade is held in the Proctor District and is for children and their parents. Non-motorized floats, pets, and children (often in costume) make up the participants.
The Daffodil Marine Parade takes place on the water and officially wraps up the festival. Boats are decorated with the same blooms from the Grand Floral Street Parade and then depart out of Tacoma Yacht Club and parade down the Waterfront. The Yacht Club hosts several activities in the days leading up to the parade as it has a number of guest boats in dock for the parade.
Daffodil Festival Royalty
Several princesses and one queen are chosen during the Daffodil Festival—all young women from local high schools who have demonstrated exceptional quality in everything from their school work, personalities, speaking abilities, to their participation in the festival.
During the Princess Promenade, the princesses are presented officially for the first time in their yellow formal gowns and are given tiaras. This is an event open to the public for a fee, and includes snacks and desserts. The Queen’s Coronation elects one of the princesses to the title of Queen of the festival. This event is also open to the public for a ticket fee. The princesses and the queen travel throughout the Pacific Northwest to represent the Daffodil Festival as it does have a traveling component as well. They also are in the running for scholarships provided by the Daffodil Scholarship Foundation.