Flitting between the endless possibilities of what the world has to offer and how my life fits into it is something I find myself doing all the time, for better or for worse. Sometimes they don’t always collide, but then sometimes they do. (And the sound of cosmic matter chiming together can be faintly heard somewhere in the distance).
A few years ago, on what was probably any ordinary day, I stumbled across a photo, it was one of those photos that makes you scream ‘Take Me!’
I discovered I was looking at a photo of the Flower Carpet festival in Brussels, something I had never heard of before. If flower power was a drug then I was on the trip of a lifetime, I thought to myself.
Faster than I could say my own name, I hammered the keys of my laptop to see if it was still there, crossing my fingers and toes. But my heart sank when I read it only takes place every two years over one weekend.
The year was 2010 which meant I had another two years to wait – two whole years! But when 2012 came and went, my hopes of seeing the Flower Carpet were put in a little box, and placed on a shelf in the back of my mind.
However, fast forward to 2014 and I got thinking about the Flower Carpet again. I had a look at the dates, 15-17 August – there was nothing in my diary. The occasion was not going to slip through my fingers again. I checked the Eurostar, found some affordable tickets, and booked it as quickly as I could.
Did the fact that it only takes place every two years over a couple of days make it appear even more attractive to me? Guilty.
On the opening night of the Flower Carpet thousands of people crowded in the Grand Place (the main square) to see the final results of months’ worth of planning put into action. A firecracker of music, lights, swarms of people, beer, and waffles drenched in chocolate encapsulated the square and drifted through the side streets.
The square itself is one of the finest in Europe, a bold statement of different architectural styles maintained within an essentially Gothic and Baroque appearance. All the buildings in the square are protected and have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Acquiring a good view of the carpet for a wee short arse like me was not meant to be, but there was still hope… I saw lots of little children on their daddies’ shoulders, and for a brief moment I thought about going up to someone tall and asking for a shoulder ride but I avoided what inevitably would have been an awkward moment between two strangers. Plus, Belgium beer was in full flow so for that reason alone it was not the most sensible idea.
Although my view of the carpet was blocked for the majority of the time, I did manage to squeeze myself to the front for a few pictures:
After the crowd died down the following day I opted to go to the viewing platform from the City Museum, and here’s a short video I took.
Without the beer, lights and music it’s a completely different atmosphere between night and day. If you have time to experience both then you should. One thing is for sure: if you have the budget you should definitely pay the extra 5 Euros to see it from either the City Hall or City Museum. It looks significantly better from above.
Each time the festival takes place the theme of the carpet changes, in 2012 it was a tapestry of patterns found in the tribes of Ethiopia, Congo, Nigeria, Botswana, and Cameroun, and this year it was inspired by Turkish Kilims. And my, my, what a pretty sight it was.
I had never been to Brussels before, and waiting for the Flower Carpet was a great time to visit the city for something that doesn’t happen every day.
For more information about the 2016 Flower Carpet, check updates here.