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Don’t Miss These Dazzling, Iconic Flower Festivals

No matter the time of year, it’s always time for a flower festival

The design of the 2016 Brussels Flower Carpet was based off of Japanese patterns. (Wim Vanmaele)
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It might be September, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to start bundling up quite yet. In fact, depending on what part of the world you live in, flower season might just be getting ready to kick off. While March through June might be peak time for flower season in most of the United States, no matter where you go you can find some wild celebrations of brightly colored flowers. Here are some of the world’s craziest, unmissable flower festivals:

corso zundert
A typical float at the Bloemencorso Zundert can be made up of hundreds of thousands of flowers. (Foto van Hassel BV via Wikimedia Commons)

Bloemencorso Zundert floral parade

Over the weekend, flower lovers descended on the tiny Dutch town of Zundert for the Bloemencorso Zundert – a days-long party celebrating the town’s iconic dahlias. The tradition dates back 80-some years, and while the parade may have started out as a relatively modest display of flower-adorned bicycles and horse-drawn carts, it’s since become something crazier and more surreal, involving massive floats covered in hundreds of thousands of flowers. Over the course of the first week of September, float-makers bustle about trying to complete their highly detailed displayed in time for the annual parade, and they can get crazy. Between the moving parts, the intricate designs, the yearly themes and the speed with which the floats are assembled, the Bloemencorso Zundert is as much a celebration of wild invention as it is the Netherlands’ dahlias.

Flower Carpet
The design of the 2016 Brussels Flower Carpet was based off of Japanese patterns. (Wim Vanmaele)

Brussels Flower Carpet

While the Brussels Flower Carpet only makes an appearance every other year, the spectacular display showcases some of the world’s most intricate flower arrangements. Starting in 1971, on every other August 15, the Belgian capital takes its iconic Grand-Place square and covers it in a literal carpet of sweet-smelling begonias. The Flower Carpet was originally started by a local landscape architect named Etienne Stautemas who made his name by designing flower carpets for cities across Europe throughout the 1950s. However, he saved his most remarkable feats for his country’s capital. These days, the Brussels Flower Carpets are made up of about 600,000 begonias each year, and are so closely packed together that every square yard can contain about 300 individual flowers. Remarkably, the entire venture is pieced together in only a few hours. With so much planning, effort and coordination necessary to get it done, it’s no wonder it is a biannual event.

Lalbagh flower show
A Buddhist temple of flowers constructed for the 2012 Lalbagh Flower Festival. (Shashidharus via Wikimedia Commons)

Bengaluru Flower Festival

Since the 18th century, the Lalbagh Botanical Garden has been a popular site for visitors to Bengaluru (previously Bangalore), the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. While the Botanical Garden has its own storied history, it is also home to two of India’s most vibrant flower festivals, celebrating India’s Independence Day and the founding of the Indian Republic. To celebrate, the gardens bring in some of the country’s most prominent horticulturists to show off India’s variety of vibrant flowers and indigenous plants in gorgeous displays and flower-covered structures. While past years have included massive centerpieces based on Buddhist and Hindu temples, this year to honor the 70th Independence Day, the Bengaluru Flower Festival constructed a large replica of India’s House of Parliament, decking the structure with local flowers like goa and maharashtra.

Jersey Battle
The nighttime, illuminated parades are some of the highlights of the annual Jersey Battle of Flowers. (Alex Walters via Wikimedia Commons)

Jersey Battle of Flowers

Some flower festivals may be highly competitive, considering the amount of effort and planning that goes into making their displays and floats, but the Jersey Battle of Flowers was once a battle in a literal sense. Like the Bloemencorso Zundert, the annual parade on this tiny island in the English Channel features intricate floats covered in thousands of flowers, chrysanthemums in this case. The "Battle of Flowers" earned its right to the name. Originally, the beautiful floats were torn apart as the flowers were used as ammunition in a flower-flinging fight. That part of the tradition has faded since the first Battle in 1902, and has since been replaced by a tamer tossing of flowers from the floats into the crowd. However, the excitement and spirit of competition remains, with exhibitors keeping their designs close to the chest until it is time for the parade.

Rose Parade
A squad of sea creatures adorn this float from the 2015 Pasadena Rose Parade. (Prayitno via Flickr)

Pasadena Rose Parade

It would be almost criminal to put together a list of iconic flower festival and not give a nod to the Pasadena Rose Parade. Held every New Year’s Day since 1890 (as long as it doesn’t fall on a Sunday), the Rose Parade features crazy floats, marching bands and equestrian displays to ring in the new year. While the parade has gone hand-in-hand with the Rose Bowl, the parade actually predates the football game, which is also sponsored by the Tournament of Roses Association. To this day, the Rose Parade is one of the most popular New Year’s events in the United States, drawing hundreds of thousands of people to watch the parade in person and millions more who watch the stunning displays (and sunny, 75-degree weather) on their television sets.

About Danny Lewis

Danny Lewis is a multimedia journalist working in print, radio, and illustration. He focuses on stories with a health/science bent and has reported some of his favorite pieces from the prow of a canoe. Danny is based in Brooklyn, NY.

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