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Parade Fever in Holland!

Wind, rain and hail failed to dampen the spirits at Holland's annual Flower Parade. Every year in April this unique parade is viewed by thousands of people from all over the world as it travels the 26 mile (42 kilometre) route from the beaches at Noordwijk to the city of Haarlem. What makes this parade unique is the fact that the floats are dressed with primarily spring flowers - tulips, hyacinths and narcissi - all donated by growers.

Although many people call this event the Keukenhof Flower Parade, its official name is Bloemencorso Bollenstreek, the Bollenstreek Flower Parade, after the region in which it is held.

With no overarching theme for this year's parade, the design teams had lots of creative leeway to make their floats and the flower parade, more surprising and beautiful than ever. The planning and excitement began back in autumn when teams that had submitted their parade float proposals began drawing, designing, welding and wrapping the models for their floats.  At the beginning of March all of this work was revealed as the participating floats were announced. From then on everyone knew which floats would ride in the April parade.

Each float was made up of two equal-sized, flat-bed trailers, propelled by electric motors with a driver discreetly placed at the front. Many of the float designs included motorised, moving parts to bring their designs to life, as well as music and float participants in fancy dress.

The Flower Parade couldn't take place without the hundreds of local volunteer decorators, many of them representing local clubs and societies. Over three very long days, these volunteers decorated the floats with colourful and wonderfully fragrant tulips, hyacinths and daffodils. Millions of mossing pins are used to fix the flower heads into the individual models, which are covered with expanding foam to create a secure structure. Flower freshness is key as this foam can't be hydrated to provide a water source!

Judging of the 15 floats took place on the last morning of construction and the winning floats were announced on Saturday. Entertainment on and around the float was integrated into the scoring for the first time.

1st Prize Best Float

Festival of the Elephants.

Floral design - Michael van Namen.

Decoration team - Corso Group KAVB Hillegom-Haarlem and district.

A large float with striking colours and gorgeous floral arrangements integrated into the design, celebrating how the elephant is venerated and protected in religion and culture around the world.

2nd Prize

Changing Colours.

Floral design - Angelique Beijk and Shauny de Groot.

Decoration team - Corso Group KAVB Noordwijkerhout.

Two impressive chameleons cast their penetrating gaze over the public from both the front and the back of the float, with moving eyes and heads.

3rd Prize

Our Rescuers.

Floral design - Nicky Markslag.

Decoration team - De Watervrienden swimming club from Lisse.

An ode to the brave volunteers who 24 hours a day in all weathers, by night and changing tides stand at the ready for the safety of the public. The front trailer shows a rescue post for beach surveillance while the rear trailer showcases the Royal Dutch Sea Rescue Institution.

With so much colour and creativity on display, every single float felt like a winner. This annual parade is an absolute treat and well worth a visit for every flower lover.





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