My Columbian friend shared with me about a festival she celebrates, where they make flower arrangements and carry them on their backs.
It sounded really exciting and beautiful but since she didn’t have a great command of English, she couldn’t really explain what it was about. I ended up googling about the festival (Festival of the Flowers) to properly understand what they were celebrating at the festival.
And I ended up finding out that lots of cultures share this love of using plenty of flowers at their festivals.
Despite the language or cultural differences, every culture views flowers as symbols of beauty, purity and nature’s love. Not only that, since it’s grown all over the world, it’s easy for people to integrate flowers as part of their festivals, whether to celebrate beauty or wish for peace.
Here are some famous flower festivals. (I imagine MamaWu would love visiting every single festival. I mean I would too).
Festival of the Flowers, Medellin (Columbia)
Photo Credit: Luis Perez
The Festival of the Flowers, or Feria de Las Flores, first began in 1957.
The highlight is the Silleteros Parade where people carry elaborate flower arrangements on their backs.
The festival marked the end of slavery, where slaves carried their masters on their backs up steep hills.
Photo Credit: Luiz Perez
If you’d like to go witness it for yourself, they used to celebrate it in May but changed it to August to also celebrate the independence of Antioquia.
Flower Carpet, Brussels (Belgium)
Photo Credit: Dan
If you’re not in South America in August, there’s always Europe.
On the weekend of 15 August, the Flower Carpet is ready for anyone to admire (and take Instagram-worthy photos).
The Flower Carpet is created every two years since 1971 and is made up of over 600,000 flowers!
It’s hosted at the Grand-Palace, which makes for a juxtaposition of fresh flowers and old Gothic architecture. A concert is held every night as well as a sound-and-light show.
Photo Credit: Glyn Lowe Photography
In order to do this, a committee of professionals is created (yes, they actually form a committee!), made up of illustrators, graphic designers and landscape architects who come up with a theme and design and reserve the flowers.
Then more than 100 volunteers put everything together in 4 hours, just in time for the opening.
Go visit the Flower Carpet in Brussels on the weekend of 15 August.
Onam, South India
Photo Credit: Ramesh Ng
Onam is a Hindu festival celebrated in the Southern India as a rice harvest festival and to mark the commemoration of the mythical King Mahabali’s homecoming.
On the first day of the festival, males will gather flowers and ladies will use them to create floral carpet designs in living rooms or courtyard floors to welcome the spirit of the King.
Onam is celebrated on the first day of the Hindu Malayalam calendar, usually around August / September.
Day of the Dead, Mexico
Photo Credit: y6y6y6
You might be familiar with the tiny colourful skulls that Mexicans have while celebrating Día de Muertos. But did you know that the festival also strongly features Mexican Marigolds?
I didn’t know either. I only knew about the skulls from researching this Halloween article and completely bypassed the flowery features.
The Mexicans use this time to honour the dead and decorate the graves and tombs of their loved ones, often with sugar skulls, muertos (the bread of the dead) and marigolds (flowers of the dead).
They believe the flowers will attract the souls of the dead to the offerings (so they can enjoy them!).
The Day of the Dead is usually held on 31 October till 2 November, to coincide with Halloween.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival, Thailand
Photo Credit: Devon Sampson
A 3-day festival, Thailand celebrates with a public garden and a giant parade. Flowers of every type are displayed at Suan Buak Haad city park, a public park, for people to admire and judges to choose the best.
The parade generally goes on in the morning, and the floats move slowly through the streets. White and yellow chrysanthemums are usually favoured as decor.
Photo Credit: Aleksandr Zykov
Girls will also participate in hopes of becoming the Flower Festival Queen winner, which is announced in the evening.
The Chiang Mai Flower Festival is held on the first week of February.
Which flower festival would you want to visit in person?