There’s a proverb that goes: Take time to smell the roses. The proverb is most commonly used as an idiom to “slow down and enjoy life.” But there are some who take this saying quite literally. Portland, Oregon sets aside times throughout each year for its Rose Festival, a tradition that is over a century old. Bulgarians have a Rose Festival that includes a walk through the Valley of Roses. South Korea started holding an International Rose Festival in May, where roses from different parts of the world are showcased to the public.
But in other parts of the world, it’s not just about the roses. Spring is the time of year to enjoy all sorts of flowers, from cherry blossoms, tulips, azaleas to begonias. Here are 7 flower festivals around the world that worth traveling for this spring.
Flower Festivals: 7 to Experience this Spring 2016
This flower festival is a chance to experience Portuguese culture on a different scale. As one of the country’s major attractions for both locals and tourists, the festival includes a parade, performances, prizes for best-decorated shop window and a flower exhibition. The “Wall of Hope,” a recent addition made within the past few years, is another must-see. Children place their flowers at the “Largo de Colegio (Colegio Square) to build a big flower wall to symbolize hope for a better and more peaceful world. This year, this festival is set to occur on April 7th-13th, 2016.
Cherry blossoms are such a big part of Japanese culture that there are Sakura (cherry blossom) forecasts and Sakura weather maps to predict the peak viewing times and locations for the fickle blossoms. It is said that the start of cherry blossom season in Japan varies by area and starts with the bloom of a single tree, like a herald that announces the bloom to come. Hanami, which means viewing flowers, is an important Japanese custom that’s held all over Japan in the spring. Peak blooms vary by region, but cherry blossoms have already begun blooming in the Fukuoka area since March 25th; in Osaka, Kyoto and Kansai since March 29th; and in Tokyo and Nagoya since March 26th. Hanami is a nation-wide event that isn’t limited to a single festival. Some places to check out are Ueno Park in Tokyo, Hirosaki-koen Park [Aomori] in the Tohoku area, or Mount Yoshino-yama in Nara Prefecture, one of Japan's best location for viewing cherry blossoms.
Snow whites, crocuses, daffodils, and hyacinths all have their peak blooming seasons in Holland, but the country’s tulips are their crowning glory. Holland is home to the most well known tulip festival around the world. It’s held annually in Keukenhof Park, located in the town of Lisse, just south of Amsterdam. The Keukenhof flower festival runs from March 24th-May 16th, 2016, and you’ll see different flowers in bloom depending on the time of your visit. After the Keukenhof flower festival became such a big thing, Amsterdam also decided to hold a flower festival in accordance with the motto: “a tulip for every Amsterdam citizen.” Amsterdam’s flower festival will run from April 1st-30th, 2016.
Also called the Feria de Las Flores, this flower festival has been a tradition since 1957. It was originally held in celebration of Virgin Mary Day, and has since evolved to include an Orchids exposition, automobiles parade, and the International Pageant of Flowers. Its main event is the Silleteros Parade, where people carry flower arrangements on their backs to symbolize the end of slavery. It’s a chance to see different types of flowers in elaborate, hand-crafted arrangements. The festival lasts 10 whole days and is usually held around the end of July/beginning of August. This year’s tentative festival dates are July 29th-August 7th, 2016.
The Canadian Tulip Festival is where you can see the Dutch Royal Family’s generosity in action. This event commemorates the Dutch Royal Family’s gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa in 1945. This gift was to thank Canada for offering Princess Juliana and her three daughters a safe haven during World War II, when the Netherlands were occupied by Nazi forces. Each year, the Dutch send millions of bulbs for the annual celebration that is held for three weekends in May. This festival attracts over 600,000 visitors each year, and is the largest of its kind in the world. This year’s newest feature is the festival’s first indoor tulip garden at Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne.
The Batalla de Flores, which means Battle of Flowers, is usually held on the last Sunday of July. Its can be considered the finale to the Feria de Julio, which means Festival of July. The month of July is considered “fiesta” time, and a variety of activities, performances, and markets are held to celebrate the month. The Batalla de Flores starts with a parade of floats/carts decorated with flowers. After the procession makes a few rounds, the “battle” between the spectators and the young ladies atop the floats begins. Baskets of flowers on the streets serve as the onlookers’ ammunition, and the girls use tennis rackets to deflect the attack. This festival gives a whole other meaning to “audience participation.”
Infiorata means “decorated with flowers,” and is a type of festival held in several Italian towns. It’s a chance for local artists to showcase their style and culture as they cover the streets with designs inspired by religious art, shapes and famous paintings. Their designs are crafted with flowers, petals, earth, wood, and even beans. Each year, the artwork corresponds to a certain theme, such as “The Colours of Michelangelo” or “The Designs of Bernini.” But their handiwork is only displayed for two days, after which schoolchildren are allowed to demolish the site. Genzano’s three-day festival is always held the weekend of the Sunday of Corpus Dimini, but dates for other towns, such as Spello and Noto, vary. Noto’s Infiorata Festival is held every third Sunday of May, while Spello also celebrates around Corpus Domini, the ninth Sunday after Easter, according to Italy Magazine.
This article was written by Hanna Choi.