The Brussels Flower Carpet has been on my bucket list since I studied abroad in Europe in 1998. I missed it by a couple of weeks back then. The wait was definitely worth it to view the 20th Anniversary edition in person. It was the perfect girls trip to Brussels with friends who enjoy chocolate and speculoos as much as I do. As a flower enthusiast, I’m already contemplating a return trip in 2018.
Check out my guest post on We Are Travel Girls featuring 10 activities for a fabulous weekend in Brussels!
Designing the Brussels Flower Carpet
The Brussels Flower Carpet tradition started in 1971 and takes place every two years during the holiday weekend for the Feast of the Assumption. Some history accompanied this 20th edition and I learned that Belgium is the largest exporter of begonias, which are showcased in every design. A theme is selected by a professional committee every two years and then the long process begins to procure the 600,000 begonias, recruit volunteers, and execute the design.
A time lapse video of volunteers staging the design just hours before the opening ceremony is available here.
Theme for 20th Edition
The 2016 Brussels Flower Carpet theme, which was also the 20th edition of the carpet, celebrated 150 years of diplomatic relations with Japan. The carpet featured Japanese motifs such as the crane, koi fish, moon, and bamboo prominently in the design. Dahlias, my favorite flowers, were included in this design.
Where to go for the best views
The flower carpet is located in Grand Place, a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site and voted the most beautiful square in Europe in 2010.
While it’s free to view the carpet at ground level, I would strongly recommend making an effort to get a panoramic view from up top to get the full perspective of the design:
- Hotel de Ville: This is the official location to get a bird’s eye view of the Flower Carpet. You can pre-book tickets to go up to the balcony at Hotel de Ville (or City Hall) through the official Brussels Flower Carpet website. The cost is 5 Euros. I recommend booking at least a month in advance since they only accept a limited amount of pre-bookings. Otherwise, you can wait on line once you arrive. The lines were the longest on Saturday and Monday morning and shortest on late Sunday afternoon.
- Maison du Roi (City Museum): We discovered this one while loading up on Starbucks. It’s located on the opposite side of Hotel de Ville, so as an added bonus you get a great view of the carpet at the ornate Hotel de Ville building. The lines are also much shorter. The entrance fee is 9.50 Euros, which includes a visit to the museum.
- Le Roy D’Espagne or La Chaloupe D’Or: The upstairs dining areas are great for a good view. We didn’t have to wait at all for a late night dessert of waffles and ice cream. If you like a ginger and cardamom flavors, try the waffle with speculoos ice cream at Le Roy D’Espagne.
Light and Sound Show
Our flight from Rome (typical of Fumicino airport) was delayed. We missed the opening ceremony and fireworks. Fortunately, each evening there is a light and sound show at 10:30 and 11:00 pm. The music is selected to complement the design theme .
Where to stay
Although Grand Place is an easy walk from the Central train station, I think staying nearby allows you to time out your visit to the Brussels Flower Carpet to avoid crowds. For a boutique experience in a historical building, I love Hotel Amigo. During a work trip that coincided with my birthday, the hotel surprised me with a gift basket of Belgian sweets and cookies. For an international chain with executive lounge facilities, the Marriott Grand Place is a great option.