Stop and (almost) smell the flowers with ‘Tulip Town 360’ app that puts viewers in iconic fields

The 36-year-old Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is a major tourist attraction every spring, and was cancelled this year due to coronavirus. (Tulip Town Photo)

Let’s not tiptoe around it — the pandemic has pretty much messed up everything, including the joy people get from seeing a field of tulips up close.

But even though the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival north of Seattle had to be cancelled this spring, the owners of Tulip Town still wanted people to see the iconic, colorful fields up close. So they’re transporting visitors virtually.

With a free mobile app for iOS and Android, viewers can check out an immersive, 360-degree tour of Tulip Town from home. High-definition drone video offers views of the fields, gardens, barn and windmill. Crews are seen picking tulips for bouquets and there are 18 different sounds throughout the app.

“If tulip lovers weren’t able to experience their age-old traditions of springtime visits to our tulip farm, then we had to bring the farm to them,” Andrew Miller, co-owner and chief executive officer of Tulip Town, said in a news release.

(Apple Store Image)

The app was created by Scott McKinley and project manager Ryan Atkins of Level 5 Interactive from Arlington, Wash., and the plan is to update it regularly to keep flower fans current on the seasonal planting, bloom, and harvest phases.

“While there may be no substitute for standing in the breeze as our millions of tulips wave at you, we trust that the fields of flowers, along with the sounds of the birds and farm machinery from Tulip Town 360 will prove a bright spot for those hoping to experience some beauty at this dark time,” Miller said.

Tulip Town and its new ownership group were the focus of a New York Times story on Mother’s Day that examined the group’s approach to tulip farming — and how they pivoted in the face of the pandemic.

“Coming in new, however harrowing the collapse, meant that everything about how the tulip business was supposed to work was also new, to be tried and tested and improvised around to keep from sinking,” the Times reported.

The festival and four-week blooming period which attracts hundred of thousands of visitors accounts for 90 percent of revenue for Tulip Town.

“Almost on a daily basis we were pivoting our business model,” co-owner Angela Speer told the Times.

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