Zundert, a small town near the southern border of the Netherlands, hosts the world’s biggest flower parade. In a country famous for its flowers, it’s no wonder flower parades are some sort of national hobby. The Netherlands has about thirty flower parades, large and small.
Zundert, incidentally the birth place of the famous Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, happens to host the biggest flower parade in the world. Each year, all twenty competing districts build a huge float of their own design. It’s largely a social phenomenon, in which members of the community join together in building the float and keeping the dahlia flower fields. All contributions are on voluntary basis, no one gets paid. It’s being part of the community and joining in a friendly competition with competing districts that counts.
Floats are some twenty meters long and nine meters high and each float contains about half a million dahlia flowers. Float construction starts in may and lasts till the hours prior to the parade on the first sunday in september. The flowers are put on only during the last three hectic days before the parade, and literally hundreds of people per district are involved in this marathon session.
The parade is a competition, an independent and professional jury, consisting of people with a background in art and theater, decide during the day of the parade which one of the twenty competing floats is the best. The ranking is announced during the second passage through the center of the town, leading to emotional scenes (dubbed the ‘Zundert jubilation’) when the winning float is asked to stop during its passage. The districts go to great length to build the most beautiful float, and for people in Zundert, winning the parade is among the best experiences in life.
Photographers: Malou Evers, Werner Pellis and Erwin Martens