The village of Zundert in the Netherlands presents the annual Bloemencorso flower parade every year on the first Sunday in September. The tradition began in 1936 as a commemoration of Queen Wilhmlimina’s birthday. The procession features an array of floats decorated with hundreds of thousands of locally-grown dahlias representing every color of the rainbow. Often times, the elaborate presentations span 19 meters in length, 4.5 meters in width and may stand at imposing heights of 9 meters.
How the floats are made
The float frames consist of iron, styrofoam and occasionally wood. The shapes of the floats gradually emerge with the help of layers of paper mache. Attaching the flowers to the base requires a single nail for every flower, which entails a painstaking process. Particular themes may encompass more than one float and some boast moving elements. Floats may represent everything from animals, people to abstract designs. As the parade does not have theme restrictions, the exquisite displays remain limited only by a creator’s imagination.
Who designs the floats
Graduates of the nearby Art Academy in Breda often develop or assist in developing the float designs. Participants also usually include presentations created by the current Art Academy student body. Zundert residents of all ages enjoy being a part of the event. Older residents often grow and cultivate the flowers used on the floats. Younger participants join together in the building and decorating processes. The project remains a voluntary effort.
Besides the community of Zundert, residents from neighboring villages also submit floats for the grand procession. Alumni from the Art Academy judge the individual floats for coveted awards, which creates an air of friendly competition amongst the various villages. The spectacular parade attracts visitors from all over the world and on average, the community plans on around 50,000 spectators. The gala parade begins on Sunday afternoon at 13:00 and finishes around 18:00.
Sightseeing in the Village of Zundert
Before or after the event, guests can enjoy tours around the community. Situated between Breda and Antwerp, the community gains fame as being the birthplace and childhood home of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. Many locations throughout the village pay homage to the artist and include the historic Vincent Van Gogh Square. One of the popular local attractions includes a tour of his childhood home. Many enjoy exploring the Dutch Reformed Church, founded in 1806. Van Gogh’s father began his career as a pastor in this interesting location in 1849. An adjoining graveyard bears the grave of Vincent’s older brother who died during infancy.
Visitors may also indulge in the Vincent van Gogh Bicycle and Walking tours, which explain the history of the agricultural community that developed sometime around 1137 A.D. The nearby Buissche Heide heathland also provides paths for strolling through the beautiful countryside. The settlement developed in large part thanks to the monks who developed the location, which consisted mainly of heathlands, peats and swamps. The Maria Toevlucht Abbey remains another point of interest in the area. Established as a priory in 1900, the abbey provided a refuge for monks expelled from France. The monks living here carry on the centuries old tradition of farming.
When planning your summer tour to Europe, consider Zundert in August for a unique experience in a beautiful Dutch town.
Candice has spend many summers in Europe, and currently works for TravAddict.com