Time is running out to tiptoe through tulips

This year’s Long Island Tulip Festival is in full bloom and bursting with a riot of colors at Waterdrinker Family Farm and Garden’s two locations in Manorville and Riverhead — but time is running out.

More than two million tulip bulbs in dozens of varieties cover the fields at the Manorville farm on Wading River Road, and hundreds of thousands more grace the fields behind Waterdrinker’s newest location on Sound Avenue in Riverhead.

“We’re one of the first farms open, and tulips are a great way to introduce the season,” co-owner Marc Weiss said Tuesday, adding that spring break, combined with this year’s great April weather “just coincided perfectly. The weather has been fantastic this year.”

The tulips are planted in November and then “they basically sleep for the winter,” he said. By April the bulbs are in full bloom.

“April 22 is really the peak bloom day,” said Mr. Weiss. “So we’re in the stage of full bloom at both farms right now. But it’s very much you’ve got to hurry and visit because they’re not going to last much longer. This may be the last week of our festival.”

Waterdrinker Family Farm and Garden’s 2023 Long Island Tulip Festival (Sunset Beach Films)

This year’s tulip festival features a couple of new attractions at the Manorville farm. One is the tulip train, where kids can ride in small carts pulled by Farmer Frank’s tractor. While the train runs only on weekends, another new feature available all week is duck racing, where youngsters vie to see who can use vintage water pumps to push rubber ducks down a track with a surge of water the fastest and land in a tub.

There’s also a “tulip tunnel” and a mini-museum featuring information about the history of the tulip. At both locations, there are barnyard animals, beer tasting and plenty of spots for hot-take selfies among the rows of flowers.

Admission to the Riverhead farm is $20 a person, seven days a week, while admission in Manorville is $20 a person, Monday through Friday, and $25 on weekends, when the tulip train is running. Once inside, visitors are free to pick and take home tulips for $1 a stem.

Soon, Mr. Weiss said, the tulips will “fade back and the petals will fall off — and then basically the season is over.”

He said a machine scoops up what’s left of the tulips, which are replanted the following fall. Mr. Weiss said that Waterdrinker welcomes visitors to bring their own shovels and wagons or buckets to dig the tulips up and take them home for replanting.

“We’ve had families dig up multiple wagon loads,” he said. “You can plant them in your garden right now, and they’ll bloom next spring.

“So you can basically take home of piece of the festival.”