11 August 2022
15 August 2022
The Flower Carpet is 70 m long by 24 m wide. 1,680 m2 of begonias, dahlias, grass and bark. A hundred volunteers assemble the carpet in less than eight hours.
Every other summer, on the weekend of August 15th, the Flower Carpet offers a chance to stroll across the Grand-Place, a jewel of Gothic architecture, to inhale the fragrant scent of the begonias and admire its details.
This extraordinary spectacle is made complete by a visit to the balcony of the Town Hall, which offers a wide-angle view of the work.
A musical theme is especially composed for each edition. A concert is given on the Grand-Place every evening and accompanies a magnificent sound-and-light show.
The robust tuberous begonia lends beauty and freshness to the carpet. A native of the West Indies, the hearty begonia is resistant to all weather conditions: intense sunshine, violent winds, rain, cold . . . Begonias come in a rich palette ranging from the most vivid colours to delicate pastel shades, with in between the many-coloured and white flowers that reflect sunlight so well.
Belgium is the world’s largest producer of begonias: 35 million bulbs each year! 80% of the total production, cultivated almost exclusively in the area of Ghent since 1860, is exported, primarily to the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
Every two years, the non-profit association Tapis de Fleurs brings together a committee of professionals (illustrators, graphic designers, landscape architects) who come up with scale projects, with each edition illustrating a different theme (the commemoration of major events, a country, a continent, the coat of arms of a city, etc.). Once the theme has taken shape in the form of a model and symbols, the number of flowers is calculated and the combinations of colours are established. The hundreds of thousands of cut flowers necessary for the composition are being reserved, very long in advance. Several days before the inauguration, a full-size drawing is executed on sheets of micro-perforated plastic that are laid down atop the cobblestones of the Grand-Place. The works can then begin.
More than 100 volunteer gardeners put together this giant floral puzzle in less than eight hours. The day before the opening, the spaces between the floral motifs are filled in using rolls of sod. The flowers are so closely-packed that they can´t be blown away, and indeed they create their own microclimate! If there´s a heat wave, the sod is watered to prevent it from wilting. If the weather is too wet, the grass can grow by 4 to 5 centimetres in 3 days. The flowers remain fresh and preserve their splendour during the four days.
The first flower carpet in Brussels was created in 1971 and has been there on the Grand-Place every two years since 1986.
This was the work of the landscape architect Etienne Stautemas, born in Zottegem in 1927. A graduate of the Horticultural College of Ghent, he began to create flower carpets in the early 1950´s. Simpler, smaller, these “rugs” were primarily composed of begonias which he loved and with which he worked ever since. After years of testing and calculations, the team of Etienne Stautemas, together with designer Mark Schautteet, imposed itself as the specialist in the creation of immense flower carpets, with sophisticated colours and complicated designs. The team went on to create more than 180 carpets, in Ghent, Bruges, Cologne, Luxembourg, Paris, London, Amsterdam, The Hague, Vienna, Valencia and even Buenos Aires and Columbus (Ohio). But “nowhere else is the carpet as magnificent and distinguished as on the ancient and unique Grand-Place of Brussels”.
The Grand-Place, a Unesco world heritage site
This is the historical heart of Brussels. Here Gothic style can be seen adjacent to opulent baroque, neo-classical as well as neo-Gothic. The Grand-Place is regarded by its admirers as “the most beautiful central square in the world”! Its construction began in the 15th century, with halls, guild houses and a Town Hall. It was virtually razed after 3 full days of bombardment by the French Army in 1695, yet was rebuilt in less than 5 years, notably by the different guilds. The tower of the Town Hall is 96 metres high. Every two years, the Flower Carpet offers a chance to (re)discover this architectural and cultural heritage jewel. Since 2000 the entire Grand-Place has been listed as a Unesco world heritage site.
Learn more about the Flower Carpet Festival in Brussels