Press release: Now in its 20th year, the 2016 Flower Carpet is celebrating 150 years of Belgo-Japanese friendship

Press release: Now in its 20th year, the 2016 Flower Carpet is celebrating 150 years of Belgo-Japanese friendship

Tuesday, May 10, 2016 — The 20th Flower Carpet, set up in Brussels' Grand Place, will be adorned in a Japanese designed to celebrate 150 years of Belgo-Japanese friendship. This ephemeral tapestry will be made up of 1,800 m² of begonias, drawing inspiration from Japanese representations of flowers, birds, the wind and the moon to depict the beauty of nature.

Visitors will be able to admire this stunning creation from 12 to 15 August 2016 in its every detail, whether from floor level or from up high on the balcony of the Brussels Town Hall.

A flourishing Belgo-Japonese friendship

On 1 August 1866, the two countries signed their first Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation. This event marked the birth of a long history between the two nations. Since then, Belgium and Japan have maintained amicable, rich and solid diplomatic and commercial relations.

A common heritage, shared values, prosperous trade, close relationships between the Japanese Imperial family and the Belgian royal family, and a mutual source of inspiration and cultural admiration are just some of the ties that have existed between these two nations for 150 years, and the reason why the Flower Carpet selection committee has chosen this theme as a means of paying homage to a wonderful friendship!

Flowers in Japanese culture

Enjoying a temperate climate, Japan has four very distinct seasons that allow an exceptionally varied flora to thrive. The seasons represent a central theme in Japanese culture, with flowers symbolising the changing of the seasons and the passage of time.

This fleeting, seasonal beauty has long inspired admiration and contemplation among the Japanese, as evidenced by their countless artistic representations of flowers.

"Hanami" is a traditional Japanese custom that involves enjoying the beauty of flowers. It is particularly popular with the arrival of spring, when the Sakura (cherry trees) come into bloom. As for the "Hanakotoba", it is the Japanese form of the language of flowers and is used to express one's emotions without words.

A few figures

The flower carpet is 75 m long and 24 m wide - that's more than 1,800 m² of begonias! It takes two years of work to get the flower carpet ready: the team has to reserve the hundreds of thousands of cut flowers it needs a very long time in advance. The Flower Carpet is a huge challenge both aesthetically and logistically. The weather conditions, the number of visitors, the route through the Town Hall, and the schedule all play a vital role in ensuring its success.

The flowers need to stay fresh and radiant for four whole days. So how is this done? Just before it is unveiled to the public, 100 volunteers create the carpet's design on the ground in the Grand Place. They are guided by a life-size design laid out over the Grand Place's cobblestones. The design is drawn on a micro-perforated plastic sheet that is fixed to the ground on top of a thin layer of sand.

This year the Flower Carpet will be composed of 600,000 flowers; begonia's, as well as dahlias, grasses, and strips of tinted bark which will come together to create a fleeting tapestry inspired by Japanese elegance.

The first Flower Carpet event took place in the Grand Place in 1971. This year will bring the number of carpets created to 20 - something that is done solely for the pleasure of millions of tourists and visitors from all over the world!

A multi-sensory experience

The opening ceremony will take place on 12 August 2016. A sound and light show, accompanied by the Italian opera "Madame Butterfly" by composer Giacomo Puccini, will completely transform the Grand Place!

Practical info

The Grand Place in Brussels will be dressed in its Flower Carpet on 12, 13, 14 and 15 August 2016. The public will be able to access it on 12 August from 1 pm to 5:30 pm and on 13, 14 and 15 August from 10 am to 10 pm.

The opening ceremony and sound and light show will take place on 12 August at 10 pm.

If you want to admire the carpet as a whole, don't miss the panoramic view from the balcony of the Town Hall. Visits will be available from 10 am to 10 pm. (Last entry at 9:30 pm)

Entry price: €5.

Children under 10 get in free.

©Wim Vanmaele - Ambassador of Japan to Belgium Masafumi Ishii & Yvan Mayeur, Magistrate of the City of Brussels
©Wim Vanmaele - Ambassador of Japan to Belgium Masafumi Ishii
©Wim Vanmaele
©Wim Vanmaele
©Wim Vanmaele - Ambassador of Japan to Belgium Masafumi Ishii
©Wim Vanmaele - Philippe Close, Councillor for Tourism & Ambassador of Japan to Belgium Masafumi Ishii
©Batistini
©Batistini
©Batistini
©Batistini
©Batistini
©Batistini
©Batistini
©Batistini
©Batistini
©Batistini

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