By Norma K

We know that Tulips come from Holland, but did you know that begonias come from Belgium? Every year Belgium produces around 60 million begonias, 80% of which are exported. And it is with this flower that this magnificent Flower Carpet is created in the city centre, right in the Grand Place. This beautiful creation lasts for only 5 days, lasting as long as the begonias do.

The Floral Carpets require in excess of 300 flowers per square metre, and, because they are such a hardy plant, they are the perfect flower for creating these wonderful carpets. Since they grow in such a huge variety of colours, creators can come up with gorgeous, colourful designs.

The carpet employs graphic designers, horticulturalists, colour specialists, numerous artists, artisans and volunteers who spend a mere two days placing the hundreds of thousands of flowers in place – 2,000 m2 in fact of flower carpet. From design to completion, each carpet takes more than 12 months work to complete.

You can see the creation from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm, with viewing also available from the balcony of the Hotel de Ville. It costs €5 to get in, but is necessary in order to see the panoramic view of the carpet from above. Seeing it at ground level is one thing, but getting the full effect from above is simply breathtaking. It’s the sheer size of the carpet that is amazing. It’s the combination of the different colours of the flowers, the brown of bark chips and the green grass that makes it so spectacular. Also the location – right in the middle of the city centre, in the main square of Brussels, surrounded by century-old buildings – makes it even more perfect.

The Flower Carpet started in Brussels in 1971 with the theme ‘Ornamental Arabesques’; this was followed in 1976 with ‘Parks and Gardens’, then again in 1979 with ‘Bruocsella’ Millennium. One year later they created another design to celebrate Belgium’s ‘150th Anniversary’. This year’s design theme is the ‘African Continent’, featuring patterns from the tribes of Ethiopia, Congo, Nigeria, Botswana and Cameroon.

In 1986 they decided to hold the event every two years. Now, due to the growing success of the Flower Carpet, and the tourists it attracts, the City Council of Brussels has decided to make the event an annual one, with next year’s date already set from 14 – 18 August.

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