The Zundert Flower Parade in the Netherlands originated in the town of Zundert, also known as the Zundert Bloemencorso. A Corso is a name typically given to a flower parade. The town also happens to be the birthplace of world famous painter Vincent van Gogh. The first signs of the Zundert Flower Parade can be seen back in 1936, and it is still the largest flower parade in the world.
Tens of thousands of visitors head down to witness the colorful creations of the Zundert Flower Parade every year. What is unique about this flower parade is that it uses only dahlias. It is celebrated usually on the first Sunday of September. Twenty hamlets are responsible for the designing and building of each of these floats that proceed in a parade fashion down the streets of Zundert. Building the floats is also something that has been passed down by families from generation to generation.
The winning float in the year 2002 of the flower parade in Zundert, the Netherlands. Photograph By Foto van Hassel BV – Beeldarchief Stichting Bloemencorso Zundert, CC BY-SA 3.0
It’s important to know that everyone who participates in the flower parade is a volunteer. People in the town of Zundert also happily give up their jobs closer to the festival dates to help build the floats, and they termed it as Corsokoots or Corso-fever. Community building of these floats is one of the main aspects in Zundert’s town culture.
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The parade takes place close to the Belgium border, and is celebrated by both the Dutch as well as the Belgians. The entire town from Sunday to Monday has different kinds of musical and theatrical performances to keep the entertainment going. Floats are designed and constructed using cardboard, steel wire and papier-mache, and are then decked with flowers. Out of the 8 million dahlias that are cultivated for this festival, around 6 million are grown in Zundert itself.
The winning float ‘Booming city’ of the Zundert flower parade in 2008 By Werner Pellis – Beeldarchief Stichting Corsief, Zundert, CC BY-SA 3.0
At the end of the day, the flower parade is a competition, with 20 hamlets who create art using dahlias, which they prepare for all year round. Each hamlet competes to create the most beautiful float. On the day of the event, the parade usually starts at 1-2pm on exhibition grounds. Their website also has the entire program of events that will take place besides the main flower parade.
Festival tickets are usually available in the month of May, as the festival is in September. There have been some of the biggest and most beautiful floats that have come from this tradition over the past 80+ years.
Another float from 2015 By G.Lanting – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
It’s good to know that the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage included the Zundert Flower Parade in May 2012. This was also announced during the parade in September by the then-state secretary. It is also the first Dutch tradition on its national inventory. In 2020, due to COVID-19, the flower parade was cancelled for the first time since the Second World War.
This year‘s edition of the Zundert Flower Parade will be held on September 4, 2022.
Feature image collage made using images by flowerweb.com, inhabitat.com, and Wikimedia Commons.