Making up for missing the Debrecen world-famous Flower Festival

By staff writer Estrella Azul. Photos Copyright © Estrella Azul

WHEN I VISITED one of my friends from Hungary, I made sure to plan my vacation so that I could spend a week with her sight-seeing near Miskolc and, before traveling back home, a couple of days in Debrecen as well.

In Hungary, August 20th is St. Stephen’s Day, a national holiday commemorating the canonization of the first King of Hungary, Stephen I. Throughout the country celebrations begin in the morning by raising the Hungarian flag in centers’ square, and the festivities continue all day long, culminating in a spectacular fireworks display in the evening.

The city of Debrecen celebrates August 20th within the framework of a week-long fiesta, hosting the Flower Festival, as its major city event – which is considered unique in Europe and increasing in reputation every year.

Having worked as a floral artist for several years and still being one at heart, it is one of my traveling dreams to attend the Flower Festival one day. That year however, it wasn’t in the cards. My friend and I watched the festivities on TV. She and her boyfriend generously offered to drive me to Debrecen one day later, on August 21st, so after arriving and settling in, we decided to make a day of it.

While row boating in Nagyerdei Park

While row-boating in Nagyerdei Park

We set out for a long walk from where I was staying to Nagyerdei Park, thinking we’d have lunch downtown later. Debrecen has many parks and has a true understanding of preserving nature as much as possible. It was well over 30 °C that day. My friends and I had a soda on a shady terrace in the park before exploring a bit and finally renting a row boat. We certainly worked up an appetite: even though my friend’s boyfriend was the one doing most of the heavy lifting, my friend and I helped, too, rowing in turns.

For photos, a basketful of different flowers awaiting tourists

For photo ops, a basketful of different flowers awaiting tourists

During our walk, we discovered that even though the festivities were over the day before, the floats that participated in the parade were still on display downtown. That was all it took for us to immediately head that way and check them out ourselves.

The city sidewalks were adorned with flowers and, adding a festive flair, giant flower baskets were placed in various locations downtown where people could take photos as a unique memento of their trip to the flower festival.

Notice how small the people standing next to the flower floats are in comparison?

Notice how small, in comparison, the people standing next to the flower floats are?

The floats that participate in the parade year after year, since 1966, display the most imaginative scenes possible, made exclusively of various floral components. They vary slightly in size depending on their theme, and the 15-16 flower compositions generate the use of nearly 3 million flowers.

Preparation and building of the sculptures begins months in advance—traditionally by various businesses and companies who want to take part in the festivities with a themed flower float. Of course, over the years the use of fresh-cut flowers has been mixed with that of straw flowers, but these do not take away from the beauty of the scenes created.

Scenes literally brought to life by millions of fresh flowers

Scenes brought to life by millions of fresh flowers

Having missed the parade, we didn’t see the march of floats accompanied by local and foreign artists, dancers and bands, cheerleaders and flag-tossing experts, but the magic of the moment wasn’t lost. The floats stood proudly displayed on Piac Street (in translation: Farmer’s Market Street, named that on account of the farmer’s markets held there daily/weekly before WWII), offering a close look to all the dazzled tourists and locals alike.

These 2010 flower floats brought to life Hungary’s coat of arms, beloved cartoon characters like Thomas the Tank Engine, Sponge Bob, a Hungarian cartoon scene, a dragon, a horse-and-wagon rural scene, movie scenes and characters from Star Wars and Avatar, a boat, and scenes from an era long forgotten – four people ballroom dancing.

I felt so happy to be able to see these wonderful flower compositions up close! It was hard to part from the beauty surrounding us, even though I took more than enough pictures.

Debrecen Flower Festival, an event that truly touched my little floral artist heart.


Estrella in the Greek Amphitheatre ruins,
Taormina, Sicily

Estrella Azul is a young emerging writer, passionate about reading, floral art and photography, with an artistic personality and a soulful outlook on life. She is a Hungarian girl living and writing from Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the capital of historical region Transylvania. Estrella is our European correspondent, she currently serves as the photo editor here at Milliver’s Travels, and she dreams of embarking on a round-the-world trip. To read more of her creative writing, her thoughts and daily happenings, visit Life’s a stage – WebBlog©. Read more of her stories on Milliver’s Travels by visiting Estrella’s story index.

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  1. Pingback: An event that truly touched my little floral artist heart | Life's a stage - WebBlog

  2. Estrella,
    Wow..the floats are amazing and your article has made me want to visit. Great job!!

    • So happy to hear this, Teresa! Hope you’ll get to travel here, it is such a beautiful place (meaning I have even more gems to share from only four days spent in Debrecen!).

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  4. ganymeder says:

    Whoa, those are beautiful! It’s a little surreal reading this and seeing the pics when we’re pretty much snowed in here, but your trip sounds lovely!

  5. Susie Lampman says:

    The floats are all beautiful. Would love to watch the festival. When is it?

  6. Pingback: If you only have three days in Debrecen | Life's a stage - WebBlog

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