Everything's coming up tulips

This weekend, thousands of visitors from across the region will descend upon Albany's Washington Park to welcome spring at the city's 59th annual Tulip Festival.

Featuring live music, food, activities for kids and, of course, hundreds of thousands of tulips, the 2007 Tulip Festival has something for everyone.

Tulip Festival weekend is always an exciting time in our city. From the annual street scrubbing on Friday to the festival's closing hours on Mother's Day, this event draws thousands of people from near and far, said Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings. "I encourage everyone to visit our beautiful and historic Washington Park which will be brimming with fun and entertainment for all ages."

The event kicks off at 11:30 a.m. Friday, May 11, with a carillon concert, followed by the traditional Dutch street scrubbing at noon. A reservation-only luncheon and fashion show at 12:30 p.m. bids farewell to last year's Tulip Queen, Amanda Benincasa, and her court. Beginning at 5:30 p.m. that evening, Washington Park will be the scene of the festival's official kick-off party, which will feature acoustic entertainment by the Empire State Wind Orchestra, Ramblin' Jug Stompers and Ten27. Food and beverages will be available.

Things start up again Saturday, May 12, at 10:30 a.m. with events leading up to the 2007 Tulip Queen's coronation at noon.

At 12:30 p.m., Saturday's rock heavy main stage shows get under way.

"As always, there's fantastic entertainment on all the stages," said Susan Cleary, the city's director of special events.

Saturday will feature performances from several artists, including the legendary Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, known for their hit, "I Love Rock 'n' Roll." Other acts on Saturday include Buddahead, The Cinematics and Under the Influence of Giants.

At the same time, the amphitheater stage will feature performances of blues, bluegrass, jazz and party songs.

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