Bloemencorso Zundert is the largest flower parade in the world entirely made by volunteers. The parade takes place on the first Sunday of September, in the small town of Zundert in The Netherlands. The floats are large artworks made of steel wire, cardboard, papier-mâché and flowers. In the Bloemencorso Zundert, only dahlias are used to decorate the objects and it takes thousands of them just to cover one float. Around 8 million dahlias are needed for the entire corso. Of these, around 6 million are cultivated in Zundert. It was founded in 1936.
The huge floats are made by twenty different hamlets and each of them consists of hundreds of builders, aged 1 to 100, who are all equally crazy about the bloemencorso. The older members of the hamlet are often responsible for planting and growing the dahlias, while the younger ones build the float in large temporary tents that are built exclusively for the event.
The bloemencorso is also a competition. A professional and independent jury decides which float is the most beautiful and which hamlet will be crowned the winner of that year.
The Netherlands ratified the Unesco Convention for the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage on 15 May 2012. This ratification was publicly announced during the parade on 2 September 2012 by State Secretary Halbe Zijlstra. On 13 October 2012, the first traditions were published on the national inventory. The first Dutch tradition on the national inventory is the Bloemencorso Zundert.
Social element and hamlets
Building a float for the corso is mainly a social event. Builders of all ages work side by side for over three months to get the float of their hamlet ready on time. It has to be as perfect as possible in order to win the competition.
The parade itself takes place on the first Sunday of September, but the members of the hamlets work on their floats all summer. The tents are put up in May or June and from then on the volunteers put all their effort in creating the giant artworks. The last three days before the actual parade are the most stressful. Because the flowers have to be fresh, the hamlets can only start applying the dahlias on the floats on the Thursday before the parade. If necessary, the builders will work day and night to have their float ready on Sunday.
Most people in Zundert will happily give up their days off to work on the float. For these days they use the term Corsokoorts (Corso-fever). The social cohesion that comes from building it is very important. A hamlet is like a family where everyone knows each other and everyone is welcome. After a long evening working on the float people drink a beer together and most hamlets organize all kinds of other activities like song contests and barbecues.
For years, seventeen hamlets participated in the corso. In recent years, three more decided to enter the competition. Building a float costs a lot of money-- Around 15.000 to 20.000 euros per float, and hundreds of people are needed. Now there are twenty hamlets competing in Bloemencorso Zundert. They are:
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