When: August (every second year)
Nothing says spring quite like flowers in bloom. In celebration of the new season, we showcase the top five most magnificent flower festivals in different parts of the world!
Every two years, hundreds of florists gather at Brussels’ city centre’s Grand Place to create a one of a kind floral carpet that, when complete, is a stunning work of art! It all begins with a committee of professional illustrators, graphic designers and landscape architects who execute a full-size drawing (75 metres long by 24 metres wide!) on sheets of micro-perforated plastic which is laid down on the cobblestones. The giant floral puzzle is then assembled in less than four hours using more than 600 000 begonias. Spread out in spectacular displays of colour; the flowers are so closely packed together that they can´t be blown away. And, since Belgium is the world’s largest producer of begonias, at 60 million bulbs each year, millions of visitors flock to Brussels for the floral celebration, strolling across the jewel of Gothic architecture to inhale the fragrant scent and admire its brilliant detail. The extraordinary spectacle is made complete by a visit to the balcony of the Town Hall, which offers a wide-angle view of the work. There’s also a concert every evening accompanied by a magnificent sound-and-light show. The first Flower Carpet in Brussels was created in 1971 and has been a showstopper ever since.
More than a million marigolds fly through the air at the traditional Batalla de Flores in Valencia, at the end of every July. This two-day floral parade begins with a brilliant procession of elaborately decorated floats pulled by horses up and down the Paseo de la Alameda in the city centre. Once the floats have done a few rounds of the route, the battle breaks out as crowds of onlookers throw flowers at the occupants. They, in turn, attempt to defend themselves with tennis rackets and other improvised shields, while returning fire with more orange and yellow blossoms. The flowers are grown in fields around the city especially for the celebration. The fun-filled flower pelting battle marks the close of Valencia's July Festival (a month-long summer celebration of great music with outdoor concerts, fireworks in the harbour and general outdoor festivity) and is free for all to come and enjoy.
The word infiorata literally means “decorated with flowers" and this historical flower festival has seen local artists cover the entire main street of Via Italo Belardi with intricate flower carpets, every year since 1778! Before the festival, the citizens of Genzano decide on the theme (usually inspired by religious art and famous paintings). They then pick more than 350 000 flowers in the surrounding woods and gardens, arrange the petals by colour, and store them until they’re ready to be placed. A design is first sketched in chalk on the pavement, which is then filled in with thousands of petals and seeds, much like the making of a mosaic but with flowers, using individual petals the way painters use the colours on their palette. The entire process starts on the Friday night before the festival and takes two or three days to complete. The end of the festival is a celebration of its own, marked by children being allowed to destroy the intricate and colourful artworks, by playing in them. Genzano’s Infiorata has grown from a popular local festival into an international event of art, culture, and above all, faith, attracting thousands of visitors from Italy and abroad every year.
Living up to the name ‘Rose of the North’, the Chiang Mai Flower Festival showcases its beautiful Damask Rose, a variety only found in Chiang Mai, amongst others, towards the end of the winter season in early February. The public, Suan Buak Haad Park, is transformed into an open-air exhibition centre where you’ll find a magnificent tapestry of floral splendour that blankets the grounds. The festival is also a brilliant opportunity for orchid lovers to see an abundant variety of these unique and indigenous flowers grown by locals. The Flower Parade is a highlight, where traditional dance and music fill the air, and gorgeous displays of intricate floral artwork adorn floats that cascade slowly down city streets. Pretty girls in colourful costumes and dancers in traditional dress perform Thai dances, with those taking part handing out roses to spectators. All the floral floats compete for most beautiful and creative display, and the best float receives a trophy for cultural preservation.
Regarded as the largest tulip festival in the world, Canada attracts more than half a million visitors to its capital city each year. The highest concentration of tulips can be viewed in the flowerbeds of Commissioners Park on the shores of Dow's Lake, and along the Rideau Canal where 300 000 tulips take over in full bloom!
Historically founded, the festival gained its roots in 1945 during the Second World War, when the Dutch royal family sent 100 000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa in gratitude to the Canadians for having sheltered Princess Juliana and her daughters during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Beyond celebrating the tulip as a symbol of beauty and friendship, the festival is brought to life with outdoor music performances, speakers, and exhibits of international cuisine. It’s also highlighted by some of the most brilliant thinkers of our time speaking about ideas that matter.
The Wild Flower Route in the Northern Cape is a vision of flowers that will colour your imagination for the rest of your days. Take off at least a week in September and escape to this natural wonderland, where you will literally see spreads of wild Namaqualand daisies, as well as flowers in every shape and colour from horizon to horizon! More than 3 500 floral species emerge in spring
carpeting the grounds of several floral hot spots including, the Hantam National Botanical Garden, just outside the village of Nieuwoudtville (the bulb capital on the flower route), the Namaqua National Park and Goegap Nature Reserve.
Hiking, eco-trails, day drives, mountain bike and 4x4 routes all offer visitors the opportunity to relax and enjoy the beauty! You need to experience this at least once in your lifetime.