The journey to the tiny village of Zundert, in The Netherlands, may involve a plane, a train and a bus, but it is a trail to an extraordinary event: the Corso Zundert.
One of some seventy flower parades around the globe, the Corso Zundert occurs annually on the first Sunday in September. Twenty floats competed in the 2016 parade, each sponsored by a different neighborhood of the small town of Zundert. The residents of Zundert spend the entire year designing and constructing the floral masterpieces.
When you think of The Netherlands, you think of tulips. But the Corso Zundert is all about dahlias. Each float contains up to a half-million flowers, in brilliant colors ranging from white to pink, yellow, purple and every shade in between.
The size of the floats cannot exceed 25 meters, by 9 meters by 4.5 meters in order to negotiate the narrow cobblestone streets of Zundert. A team of human ‘pushers’ propels each rolling platform. It is considered great honor to don the black, ninja-like costume and move the float through the village passages.
The floats are truly creative, imaginative and utterly unique. The Corso Zundert has no central theme, so each team searches for the most innovative expression of color and beauty in a flower float. The float subjects range from the traditional frog prince to the contemporary underground music scene.
Animation brings the floats to life. Wildebeests stomp, dragons roar and bulls snort as each creation winds down the tiny streets. Interspersed between the floats are marching bands, some even performing on bicycles.
The parade makes two passes down the route –the first pass is for judging and the second pass is to receive the judges’ scores. Every float receives a ranking, from first to last. Each float is such a masterpiece, it somehow seems harsh to anoint any entry last place. But the Dutch are known for ‘telling it like it is’, and the intricate scoring is revealed for all to see.
The Corso Zundert is the highlight of the day, but the entire town assumes a festive atmosphere for the event. The Dutch sense of whimsy and wit pervades the entire village. Comical ‘nurses’ chase runaway ‘patients’ through the crowds. Oomph-pa bands in funky attire play on every corner. Food vendors cater to the Dutch love of everything fattening and fried: dough balls, sausage, cheese and ‘patat’ with a side of mayonnaise.
Is the Corso Zundert the best flower parade in the world? A bold premise, but who knows? Officials from Pasadena’s famous Rose Parade made the journey to attend the 2016 Corso Zundert. Perhaps the California competition was trying to learn a thing, or two, from the little village of Zundert.
Corso Zundert: When You Go
Zundert is about an hour and a half drive from either Amsterdam or Brussels. The nearest train service is in Breda, Netherlands, about 14 KM from Zundert.
Lodging options are limited in diminutive Zundert. Breda is the best choice for overnight stays. The Hotel Nassau Breda, an Autograph Collection property, provides luxury accommodations in a brilliantly restored former convent.
For Corso Zundert information and advance ticket purchase, visit www.corsozundert.nl .