Two days of free concerts, activities, clowns, magicians, costumed performers, and buzz in Brussels center is happening this weekend. The Festival of the Iris/Iris Day (Fête de l’Iris) is a celebration of the symbol of Brussels.
On January 12, 1989 a new law created the Brussels Capital Region on the territory of 19 municipalities and the Brussels Region then started its own legislative and executive institutions. The Iris was chosen as the symbol of Brussels in 1991 because it was widely found growing in the region. After a big public contest was held, the emblem designed by Jacques Richez was selected as the winner.
As a Canadian in Brussels, when I saw the Iris symbol of Brussels, it reminded me of the Fleurdelisé – flag of Quebec. It seems that flowers are a popular symbol because Alberta, the province in Canada where I’m from, is known as “The Wild Rose Country” because like in Brussels, the wild rose can be found growing naturally in Alberta.
Last year I stumbled upon the festival while wandering around the Royal Place and down towards Grand Place. It was warm sunny day which added to the excitement. We can cross our fingers that the sun will push its way through the clouds this weekend.
You can pick up some swag adorned with the Brussels Iris at the blue tents or you can hop on the small train that will take you on a short tour of the city center.
The costumes are bright and elaborate. It was hard not to stare and I wasn’t the only one. Children and adults alike were fascinated by these women who looked like creatures from another world.
One of my favorite parts of the day was walking by this lady dressed in blue who was handing out an iris to each person passing by. She was also happy to smile and take photos. I’m sure this dress is not easy to wear for hours under the sun.
So if you’re in Brussels or nearby, come out on Saturday and Sunday 5 & 6 May 2012 to enjoy the festivities and maybe go home with an Iris flower and some swag.
How do you like to enjoy the beginning of Spring? Is there a flower featured as a symbol or marker in your city or region?