A few weeks ago I visited the city of Zundert. There was a pleasant buzz. Thousands of people were preparing their Corso. 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. It is the most important event of the town of Zundert. During a whole year, the people of Zundert live towards this happening. Each year, all twenty competing hamlets build a huge float of their own design, the result of a design competition. It’s largely a social phenomenon, in which members of the community join together in building the float. The flowers used for the float are Dahlias. In Zundert you can find lots of dahlia flower fields, kept by the community. 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 hamlets that counts. The parade creates a strong bond between Zundert inhabitants.
Floats are some twenty meters long and nine meters high and each float contains about half a million dahlia flowers. The construction of the floats starts in the month of 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 hamlet 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 theatre, decide during the day of the parade which one of the twenty competing floats is the winner. The ranking is announced during the second passage through the town, leading to emotional scenes when the winning float is asked to stop during its passage. The hamlets 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.
The parade exists since 1936 and started as a celebration for the queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. The queens day aspect quickly disappeared and during the Second World War, the parade was cancelled, but since 1945 the parade blossoms again. It has grown and developed ever since. Younger generations get involved, so the character of the floats through the years became very dynamic. There are numerous innovations and style evolutions as each new generation leaves its marks.
There are twenty competing districts and twenty floats. The parade is watched by 75.000 spectators coming from all over the world.
Once the competition finished, the hamlets start the preparations for the next year … In the month of Oktober the new Dahlia bulb must be planted … A continuing process…
Corso Zundert 2022