The traditional Flower Carpet is back this year at Brussels’ Grand Place to the delight of thousands of visitors. The 22nd edition will take place from the 12th until the 15th of August, after nearly four years of absence. To mark its 50th anniversary, the design of the carpet will be the very first one used back in 1971.
According to Belga news, the design of this edition is the result of a collaboration between Mexican artist Roo Aguilar Aguado and Koen Vondenbusch, a student of Etienne Stautemans and his successor Marc Schautteet, who has been working on the Brussels Flower Carpet for 28 years. They have spent nearly 300 hours reconstructing the pattern of the 1971 carpet, based on plans drawn by Stautemas himself.
After two years of Covid, the Grand-Place will shine with a thousand and one colors this summer. The Flower Carpet is an unmissable event on the cultural and tourist agenda.Delphine Houba, Alderwoman for Culture, Tourism and Major Events of the City of Brussels
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. The first Flower Carpet of Brussels was created in 1971 and has been a present every two years on the Grand-Place since 1986. According to the organizers, the 1971 Flower Carpet 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 colors 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”.
Every two years, 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 flowers 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. Every evening, visitors can enjoy a magnificent sound-and-light show at the Grand-Place.
To highlight the versatility of our ornamental plant production, we have also incorporated other flowers produced in Flanders, such as chrysanthemums, into this year’s Flower Carpet.Filip Fontaine, Managing Director VLAM, partner of this edition
A native of the West Indies, the begonia is resistant to all weather conditions: intense sunshine, violent winds, rain, cold. Begonias come in a rich palette ranging from the most vivid colors to delicate pastel shades, with in between the many-colored 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.
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 colors are established.
The hundreds of thousands of cut flowers necessary for the composition can then be 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 micro climate. 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 centimeters in 3 days. The flowers remain fresh and preserve their splendor during the four days.
The flower carpet will be laid down on August 12th between 9:00 and 13:00, with the official opening with sound and light show taking place the same day at 22:00. The panoramic view of the carpet from the City Hall balcony will be possible on August 12th, 15:00-18:00 (last admission: 17:30), and August 13th to 15th, 10:00-22:00 (last admission: 21:30). The sound and light show will be from 21:30-23:00 (every 30 minutes).