What a week, what an event – even the weather was spectacular as the worldwide floristry community came together in Manchester for the Interflora World Cup, held in the UK for the first time. The setting was Manchester Central, once the city’s main railway station, now converted into a magnificent venue, large enough to accommodate this once in a lifetime floral extravaganza.
Twenty competitors travelled from as far away as Japan, Hong Kong, Peru, Venezuela, Canada, Finland, Hungary…and, much nearer to home, the UK, represented by Interflora Florist of the Year, the very talented Elizabeth Newcombe.
Over three packed days, visitors were wowed by inspirational demonstrations from Floral Fundamentals and NAFAS, enjoyed wonderful floral displays (of course!) took part in workshops from international designers, including Bart Hassam the 2019 Champion, and indulged in plenty of shopping opportunities, all set against the backdrop of the main event – the competition itself.
Working in their booths, in full view of visitors, fellow florists and the press, the competitors completed four tasks across the first two days on the overall theme of ‘Our Natural World.’ On Day One was a suspended design illustrating ‘Our forest canopies’ followed in the afternoon by the surprise item, entitled ‘Bees in our ecosystem’. Day Two began with a table for two inspired by ‘Our ocean waves’ and finally, the eagerly awaited bridal design representing ‘Our clouds’.
The competitors, all of them having planned for months in advance, gave everything they had; the standard of floristry, the dedication, the concentration, and the range of designs was simply breathtaking, and yet the atmosphere remained collaborative, supportive, and friendly throughout.
Even so, there could only be one overall winner, and at the end of Day Two, twenty became ten, which, after a tense semi-final of a second surprise item, a meadow inspired handtied, the ten became five, which, the home crowd were delighted to learn, included the UK!
Following a busy Saturday where visitors were entertained by the competitors' flag parade, a student competition and plenty of fun, flowers and shopping, came the Grand Final. Taking place on stage at the Gala dinner, in front of over 600 people, the five finalists, Nicolaus Peters from Germany, Hyung Hak Kim, Korea, Elizabeth Pailsson, Norway, Patricia Aguin of Spain and Elizabeth Newcombe from the UK, had their third and final surprise challenge, 45 minutes to decorate a stand celebrating Interflora’s centenary.
Then…finally the winner was announced, and the Interflora World Cup Champion 2023 was revealed to be Nicolaus Peters from Germany. In second place, Elizabeth Pailsson and….to huge cheers and not a few tears, Elizabeth Newcombe took third place.
Congratulations to a worthy winner and to all the competitors who put their heart and soul into everything they did in what was a truly incredible competition.
Su Whale is a florist and freelance writer with over twenty-five years' experience in the floristry industry. She is the author and publisher of three best-selling books: Cut Flowers, 4th edition (2020) Cut Foliage, 2nd Edition, (2021) and Houseplants (2019), all bookshelf essentials for the professional florist.