Colorful Lochristi Begonia flower Festival
Undoubtedly, Lochristi Begonia Festival, which takes place last weekend in August is worth visiting. A colorful celebration is, in fact, a tribute to the national flower of Belgium, held in Lochristi (six miles from Ghent). They say, 30 to 33 million flowering tubers grow each year on more than 400 acres. For the festival, residents create enormous three-dimensional floral installations for a parade of flower-decked floats. In addition, each year they depict a different theme. For example, the world’s favorite fairy tales. Colorful arrangements of millions of yellow, red, orange, and white blossoms on beds of sand turn the town’s main street into a carpet of flowered pictures.
Also, other events are band concerts and tours to the begonia fields. However, the tuberous begonia was originally a tropical plant. It takes its name from Michel Begon, a French amateur botanist who was an administrator in the West Indies at the time of Louis XIV. Then the plant appeared in England in 1777, and soon in Belgium. So, the Belgians began cultivating the begonia in the middle of the 19th century.
Because the commercial value of the begonias comes from their tubers, or underground stems, the farmers of Lochristi discarded the blossoms before the festival was begun in 1946 and put them to good use.
The main attraction of the Begonia Festival are carpets, sculptural compositions and even large watches made of begonia. Meanwhile, the producers saw in this initiative an ideal opportunity to promote their flowers. Fortunately, begun in 1951 idea quickly evolved into a successful festival with countless visitors.
Photo by Sonja de Baets (facebook.com/sonja.debaets.10) and Willem Van Cotthem (facebook.com/willem.vancotthem)