Lochristi Begonia Festival

Lochristi Begonia Festival

Last weekend in August
A colorful celebration of the national flower of Belgium, held in Lochristi (six miles from Ghent), where 30 to 33 million flowering tubers are produced each year on more than 400 acres. For the festival, residents create enormous three-dimensional floral tableaux for a parade of flower-decked floats. These depict a different theme each year—for example, the world's favorite fairy tales. Besides the tableaux, 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. Other events are band concerts and tours to the begonia fields.
The tuberous begonia was originally a tropical plant. It takes its name from Michel BÉgon, a French amateur botanist who was an administrator in the West Indies at the time of Louis XIV. The plant reached England in 1777, and Belgium 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.
CONTACTS:
Belgian National Tourist Office
220 E. 42nd St., Ste. 3402
New York, NY 10017
212-758-8130; fax: 212-355-7675
www.visitbelgium.com
SOURCES:
GdWrldFest-1985, p. 21