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What to See and Do at the Texas Rose Festival in Tyler, Texas

My grandpa loved gardening. I learned much from him. To this day I enjoy puttering around in our garden, growing plants for beauty and food.

Closeup Photo of Rose

Closeup Photo of Rose

My Love of Rose Bushes Runs Deep

I grew up with a grandfather who grew roses outside all of the houses in which he lived. He tenderly cared for them, and they rewarded him with spectacular growth and beauty.

After I was married and my husband and I got a home of our own, I started to grow my own rose bushes and have applied some of the pruning techniques that I learned from my grandfather.

My mother-in-law also loved roses and had a hardy, old-fashioned, antique type of rose bush that grew up and covered a portion of her wooden fence in San Antonio, Texas. She would bring the cut flowers inside and float them in a rose bowl on top of her dining room table.

When she mentioned that she wanted to go to the Tyler Rose Festival one year, she came over to Houston from San Antonio and the three of us headed on up to East Texas to see the annual event.

Nation's Rose Capital

Tyler, Texas, is known as "The Rose Capital of the World" and literally thousands of people converge in this medium-sized East Texas town of just over 100,000 people every October for the annual four-day event of the Texas Rose Festival.

Whether you live close enough to drive back and forth or choose to make a vacation trip out of it and stay in local lodgings, all can see and engage in the many activities on offer, starting with the Texas Rose Festival Parade.

Generally starting on the third weekend in October, one can see beautifully decorated floats go down the streets of Tyler. And as if the floats were not spectacular enough, girls in gorgeous ball gowns created especially for the Rose Festival ride atop the floats.

See Floats, Dresses and Excitement at the Rose Festival

Each year, the people creating these floats and dresses undoubtedly try to outdo the ones created in the previous year. Of course, there are the local bands marching and performing as well as other parade attractions.

This is a fun way to start the annual celebration of the rose!

Water Splashed Rosebud

Water Splashed Rosebud

The Rose Show

Many things go into the making of a successful rose show each year. Obviously one has the gardens, which contain around 500 different varieties of roses numbering approximately 38,000 plants. The rose industry definitely impacts Tyler's economy!

Tyler has one of the nation's 24 approved rose-test gardens, where roses are evaluated for hardiness and disease resistance (among other things) prior to ever being propagated and put up for sale for rose enthusiasts to grow in their own gardens.

So if visiting the Tyler rose and garden center, one will likely see amazing color combinations as well as roses of all sizes that one cannot yet see elsewhere.

The nice thing is that the 14-acre park, open daily, is free to the public.

The climate in East Texas is humid and sub-tropical, much like Houston, and the roses' best blooming periods in both places are in the Spring and Fall of the year.

All types of roses are grown and evaluated, and the old heritage varieties are kept alive and thriving. Often the antique roses have the greatest of aromas!

Tyler Rose Festival

One fun thing to see and do while attending this annual festival is to attend the Rose Queen's Tea.

The annually chosen queen and some of her attendants and escorts dressed in their elaborate costumes are there in the rose garden to greet the public and have their photos taken next to the many attendees. There is no charge for this!

I am sure that for those vying for the honor each year it is quite a thrill. They add additional interest to the festivities, just like the hoop skirted young ladies that used to adorn the beautiful grounds at Cypress Gardens in Florida used to do.

Other options include attending the Queen's Ball. There are luncheons for both men and women, a craft's fair, lectures which can be attended and even a Rose Museum where the history of the Tyler Rose Festival is kept alive.

Whether one goes for just one day to primarily see the beautiful rose gardens as well as indoor flower exhibits (which can be quite elaborate) during the annual rose festival in Tyler as we did...or to spend all four days enjoying the varied activities, suffice it to say that you will come away with a better appreciation of everything that goes into the development and caring of rose bushes.

In my memory, I can almost imagine the fragrant aromas coming from that visit to the Tyler Rose Garden during the Texas Rose Festival right now while writing this post.

Beautiful Rose

Beautiful Rose

Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.

— Alphonse Karr


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Peggy Woods