The first ever Free State Madeira Flower Festival was an extravaganza of Mother Nature at her most spectacular, and this year it promises even more breath-taking magnificence in a swirl of blooms and petals, colour and scents, dancing and festivities.
Hosted in the vibrant town of Parys, the highly anticipated Free State Madeira Flower Festival is all set to bloom this spring on 24 and 25 November. Design experts led by Joao Rodrigues from Madeira are on their way to the Free State to design the floral floats, 500 dancers from various districts are swirling their way through their choreography, and the pretty town of Parys is dressing up for the upcoming occasion.
A joint venture between the governments of Free State and Madeira, Portugal, the annual festival is an ambitious vision that was seeded and grown within a partnership between Free State Premier Ace Magashule, and Madeira President, Miguel Albuquerque. A vision that was beautifully realised last year in the biggest flower festival South Africa had ever seen.
Free State Gambling Liquor and Tourism authority CEO Kenny Dichabe says: “It was truly a landmark event – and not just for Parys, or even just for the Free State as a well-established farming and tourism region, but for our entire country as well.”
30 000 visitors from all over the world streamed into the little town of Parys last November for two days floral heaven. There were performers, floats, giant flower puppets, fireworks, theatre performances, exhibitions, stalls, workshops, conferences, an amazing floral storytelling precinct, and masses of flowers.
“The inaugural event was an incredible success, and of course we intend to do nothing less than raise the bar and delight our visitors even more than last year,” says Dichabe.
The second Free State Flower Festival is set to be a colourful surge of entertainment, floral displays, and a music concert featuring local artists with Albuquerque and Magashule in attendance.
The highlight of the event is the stunning 1km flower parade through Bree Street — an extravaganza of colour, fairy-tale-like floral floats, hundreds of choreographed performers in magnificent floral outfits, and the flowers that adorn them. The Palesa Parade is one of the largest choreographed dance movements in South Africa.
In a country where domestic tourism is on the decline, the festival is an enticing nectar, particularly for frenetic Joburgers looking for a quick and easy escape. The short 1.5-hour drive from Joburg makes Parys an easily accessible weekend playground for city slickers looking for a little respite. The town is also continuously brimming with both culture and adventure.
If you’re one of the lucky ones heading to Parys for the Free State Madeira Flower Festival in November, make sure you book your accommodation now. The little town is filling up fast.