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On the first Sunday of every September, the small Dutch town of Zundert bursts into full bloom, hosting the largest flower parade in the world.
Founded in 1936 to commemorate Queen Wilhelimina’s birthday, the Corso Zundert Flower Parade – the tradition of villagers parading their impressive dahlia-covered floats – has lived on as a celebration of the Netherlands’ most iconic export: flowers.
Some 20 teams from surrounding villages descend on Zundert after a long summer designing, building and finessing their competing entry. The dahlias must be woven into their creations just days before the floats take to the streets to prevent them withering – and each team recruits the help of hundreds of volunteers to secure every last flower. On the Saturday preceding the parade, locals work through the night to get their float finished.
During the float parade, each entry is presented before a panel of judges, whose discerning eye aims to spot the most beautiful and well-constructed design. The winner for 2016, “Dangerous Transportation” by the Tiggelaar hamlet, featured a giant dragon with steam billowing from its nostrils. Winning the flower parade is commonly regarded as the ultimate joy an inhabitant of Zundert can experience in a lifetime.
All photographs by Malou Evers, Erwin Martens, and Werner Pellis, courtesy of Corso Zundert.