The 20th August is the national and state holiday of Hungary and the anniversary of the consecration of Stephen I of Hungary. In Debrecen, however, it is also the day of the Flower Carnival. It is a real attraction, drawing in visitors from across the country and internationally ever since it was first organised in 1966.
According to historians, the following two events are the predecessor of today’s flower carnival:
In August 1900, the board of the Debrecen Civil Cycling Association held a meeting and decided to hold a national cycling competition later that same year in September to raise awareness of the association’s new track. The highlight of the event and competition was a “large-scale flower corset, which they want to create with a lot of taste and splendor”.
On June 14, 1905, the Debrecen Ambulance Association, which was in a difficult financial situation at the time, organized a flower carriage carnival with the aim of raising money for the purchase of a new ambulance. 23 cars decorated with flowers participated in the procession that was led by the car of the city.
After that, more than six decades passed before flower carts (what would be described as floats today) would take to the streets of Debrecen again.
The Debrecen Flower Carnival in some semblance of what we might recognise today was first organized on August 20, 1966, as the initiative of the Debrecen City Council. It was a great success and won the hearts of the Debrecen audience. It became clear that the carnival would be held in the following years, so the event was continuous from 1966 and with the participation of foreigners in 1969 (the first participant was the Bulgarian sister city of Debrecen, with a car made of Sumen roses).
The Flower Festival 2020
The Flower Carnival that was officially certified last year, will be held this year too but it will be organized in a different format than in the previous fifty years.
Deputy Mayor István Puskás reported on local television that since large events cannot be organized in the city, a “Step by Step” program series will start on the weekend, after 4th June.
Within the framework of the program many smaller, sometimes flash mob-like, – unannounced events will enrich the life of Debrecen throughout the summer.
The carnival procession is likely to be cancelled as the city will not be able to receive foreign groups this year and there will certainly not be a stadium show or fireworks on August 20, but those interested will still be able to enjoy many smaller events.
However, there will be flower cars, but it will be presented to the public in a different format as usual.