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It’s a spectacle that occurs only every two years and it is truly an incredible sight to behold: a floral carpet composed of nearly one million begonias. This 1,800 square metre Flower Carpet adorns the square of Brussels' historic Grand Place once every two years for visitors to admire for four short days in August.
Image via Wouter Hagens
It’s a fantastic tradition and a unique one at that, but how did it all begin? It all stems from a landscape architect by the name of E. Stautemans. Stautemans initiated the tradition by creating the very first Flower Carpet in 1971. The event was held sporadically over the years until the 1990s when it was decided that the Flower Carpet would become a biennial event.
77 metres long and 24 metres wide, it takes the hard work of one 120 volunteers to bring this stunning floral artwork to life, as well as an extensive amount of planning. The theme, design, number of flowers and colour schemes are all planned out one year in advance.
In the days leading up to the final unveil, the outline of the design is drawn and experienced gardeners gather at the historic square and put the Flower Carpet together begonia by begonia.
Since its inception, hundreds and thousands of begonias have been tightly packed together to form the famous Flower Carpet at foot of the Grand Place, but it begs the question: why begonias? Well, in actual fact begonias have been one of Belgium's largest exports since the 1860s. Every year, Belgium produces 60 million begonia tubers and is renowned as the world's largest producer of the beautiful bloom. Commercially cultivated in Belgium and available in an array of different colours, there really was no better choice than the lovely begonia.
Image via Francisco Conde Sánchez
The Flower Carpet’s design and style are carefully considered to fit into a theme selected by organizers for inspiration. Selected a year in advance, when planning begins, the theme endeavours to commemorate great events, with one theme honouring the first president of the European Union and another commemorating Turkish immigration, which boomed in 1964. This year, the 20th Flower Carpet will celebrate Japan in an effort to recognise 150 years of diplomatic relations and friendship between Belgium and Japan.
Image via Michal Osmenda
Opening night of the Flower Carpet will be marked by a live concert with fireworks on Friday August 12 at 10pm. There will be a light and music show that evening at 10.30pm and 11pm and every evening until 15 August.