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The Netherlands is a global leader in flowers, plants and bulbs – a fact that Dutch flower growers and exporters are rightly proud of. To show off their beautiful handiwork, flower growers in the Netherlands organise annual bloemencorso’s or ‘flower parades’ up and down the country. These eye-catching processions of floats colourfully decorated in a profusion of Dutch flowers are a popular attraction for both tourists and locals alike. And the flower parades are an equally exciting event for the participants, who each have an opportunity to win a variety of coveted awards.
The history of Dutch flower parades
According to historians, flower parades were already being held in the Netherlands as long ago as the Middle Ages, often as part of the annual Dutch carnival celebrations. However, this vibrant procession of flower floats gradually fell out of favour – that is until a group of Amsterdam students had the idea of breathing new life into the Dutch tradition, by holding a flower parade in the Vondelpark in 1887, which was partly inspired by the “Bataille de Fleurs” held in Nice every year. Another flower parade was held in the Gelderland village of Lichtenvoorde on September 5th 1898, to commemorate the inauguration of Queen Wilhelmina. Flower parades were subsequently organised every Queen’s Day, to coincide with the then Queen Wilhelmina’s birthday on August 31st, right up until 1948. This possibly explains why the majority of Dutch flower parades are still held during the months of August and September.
Types of Dutch flower parade
Flower parades are loosely divided into two categories: dahlia flower parades and non-dahlia flower parades. Dahlia flower parades are almost exclusively held outside of the Randstad area of the Netherlands, and strongly focus on visual design, sometimes even incorporating elements of theatre and dance. Non-dahlia flower parades on the other hand, predominantly take place in the Randstad area, where the art of flower arranging is central.
Arguably the biggest and most famous annual dahlia flower parade is held in late August or early September, in the Brabant village of Zundert. The largest non-dahlia flower parade is the ‘Bloemencorso van de Bollenstreek’ (the flower parade of the Dutch bulb region), which takes place every year in April. Both dahlia and non-dahlia flower parades are a genuine feast for the eyes, whilst for participants there’s the added excitement of the numerous prizes up for grabs – indeed, it is this competitive edge that ensures the flower parades are bigger and better, year on year.
Dutch flower parade calendar
Dutch flower parades traditionally take place during the months of August and September. If you happen to be visiting the Netherlands around this time, then why not attend one of these memorable events? Simply browse the flower parade calendar to discover when and where the flower parades are going to be held. If you’re not travelling to the Netherlands this year, then you can always watch the Zundert flower parade live on the Dutch TV channel, Omroep Brabant. A summary of the live broadcast may also be viewed via Uitzending Gemist (Omroep Max).
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then visit our sister blog, Heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants.