Destination, Europe, Experience
Sight For Sore Eyes: Flower Carpet of Brussels
By Pier Smith
I love to travel more than anything. But I have to admit that Brussels wasn’t necessarily on my “Top 5 Places to Visit” list…until now. That is because Brussels’ Flower Carpet just bumped it up several notches. This wonderful display is a wonderful display of horticulture artistry. To put it simply, Brussels’ Flower carpet is a visual feast that is not to be believed. I happened to stumble upon this phenomenon and immediately had to know more. Now I know this was no accident.
The historic Grand-Place of Brussels is home to the world famous Flower Carpet which many come from near and far to witness for themselves. In my exploration, I came to understand that the first official flower carpet dates back to 1971 and evolved from a series of smaller floral designs created by landscape architect E. Stautemans and his love of begonias.
The begonia is the staple flower of this event due to its vibrant variety and ability to withstand bad weather. Over the years, these unique “carpets” became more and more popular. And soon after, requests came pouring in from all over the world for these visually stunning flower carpets. It was only a matter of time before this small concept evolved into one of the most beautiful floral events the world has ever seen. The love, dedication and artistry woven into each carpet are a marvel in and of itself. The making of the carpet is a process that includes models, illustrations and precise measurements that start a year prior to the actual event. Several floral and color combinations are calculated and precise lines are drawn on the grounds creating a blueprint for installation. At this point, over one hundred expert gardeners and floral enthusiasts come together to install each flower of this tapestry by hand. It is said that over one million flowers have been used to fill this floral extravaganza that can cover as much as 19,000 square feet! Beyond all of this, what I love is that a cultural theme is assigned to each carpet. Past themes have included African inspired patterns from tribes of Ethiopia, Nigeria, Botswana and the Congo; the Belgian presidency of the European Union as well as 18th century patterns inspired by French royalty and the Flemish Renaissance.
The floral carpet of 2014 was recently held August 14-17th and was inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Turkish immigration in Belgium. This event is proof that the world’s natural gifts and elements we often take for granted can be harnessed and formed into breathtaking works of art. Something amazing happens when we expand and repurpose the ordinary…Magic!
What You Need To Know: This event occurs once every two years over one weekend in mid-August. The opening night of this event typically includes musical accompaniment, light performances and a fireworks display. Tours that provide panoramic views from the balcony of the City Hall are also made available to visitors. Admission to the 2014 Flower Carpet was €5 – free entry for children under the age of 10. The next Flower Carpet will take place in 2016 and I will be there to witness it…will you?
Pier was born in Chicago, Illinois and is a proud alumna of Spelman College. She is the granddaughter of a missionary who traveled the world well into her 80's and daughter to an avid lover of culture, travel and art. Based on her mother and grandmother's "get up and go" mentality, one might say her love for travel is hereditary. Although she currently works in the consulting industry, some of her most AMAZING travel experiences occurred while serving as one of Oprah Winfrey's executive assistants at Harpo Studios. Pier has touched down in France, South Africa, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Canada, Germany and Spain. If you gravitate toward anything artsy, vibrant, ancient, unconventionally spiritual, serene or FABULOUS, you'd be her instant BFF. Not only does Pier love to travel, she loves to share the journey simply because the joys of life are so much better when shared with others. Her travel mantra: Vouloir, c'est pouvoir...where there's a will there's a way!