Belgium: When 750,000 begonia flowers come to Brussels’ main square

The 2008 flower carpet design in Brussels was inspired by 18th century French tapestries.
( Wouter Hagens / Wikimedia Commons)

Every August a huge flower carpet as intricate as a stitched tapestry takes over the Grand Place in Brussels. This year hundreds of thousands of begonia flowers -- it’s never any other kind -- in deep pinks and reds will be used to create the geometric patterns found in a Turkish kilim.

The theme is a nod to the culture of the 220,000 Turks who began coming to Brussels 50 years ago under an immigration pact. The 2014 Brussels Flowercarpet, as the event now in its 19th year is called, will re-create an Anatolian carpet with 750,000 flowers that cover almost 20,000 square feet in front of City Hall.

How do they do it? About 120 volunteers spend seven hours placing live cut flowers along a sketch of the design laid out on a plastic sheet over the square’s stones. The spectacular display lasts just four days.

And it’s always made of begonias. Though the plant is native to the West Indies, Belgium has been in the begonia business since around 1860, according to the event’s website. It grows about 60 million plants each year and exports 80% of them.


The flower carpet is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 15 to 17 with special concerts and light shows taking place each evening.

Those who stay at the nearby Hotel Amigo will find a flower-friendly package that includes a Rose Blossom cocktail (Aperol, Prosecco, grapefruit juice and St-Germain), facial, dinner with wine at the hotel’s Ristorante Bocconi, and two tickets to the City Hall balcony to get an elevated look at the flower carpet.

It’s available for stays Aug. 14 to 17, and costs $496 a night for two, including tax.

Info: 2014 Brussels Flowercarpet