AN “absolutely spectacular” colourful festival has been added to the South African events calendar.

The Free State Madeira Flower Festival, scheduled to take place from November 24 -25 in Parys, will include 500 dancers, five massive float and giant flowers puppets performing around a spectacular flower precinct in Disney-like flower story. It will be the second time a fully-fledged, massive flower parade takes to the streets, anywhere in South Africa. Entry will be free.

The event is a joint venture between the governments of the Free State and Madeira, who host the world’s largest flower festival.

It is meant to have joint trade and tourism benefits. The event was the brainchild of Free State Premier, Ace Magashule and Madeiran President, Miguel Albuquerque following a trade visit to the Portuguese island in March this year.

The Festival is really a creative way to stimulate the flower industry so by raising its profile, we will draw more participation and fast track opportunities around export, at the same time. “As a tourism authority, we will also use the event to stimulate tourism in the region and draw thousands of visitors from Gauteng and surrounding provinces to quaint Parys.” The bulk of African flower exports into Europe currently were from Kenya and it is hoped that through the Madeiran link, the event would also unlock critical opportunities for South African growers.

Flower Parade: The tourism highlight of the event will be an extravaganza of colour, featuring some 500 choreographed performers, adorned in flowers and magnificent floral outfits. Participants, many of whom will be children, will parade in one choreographed movement, through the main tourism street of Parys. They will be on float processions, in dance groups or featured in spectacular floral displays.

Flower Precinct: This will be an area, where several floral exhibits will be located. These will include regional exhibitors, wholesalers, retailers and food and beverage providers. Various activities and fun-themed events will be staged over the two days of the Festival and will provide entertainment for the entire family. Among the highlights will be musical performances, kiddies shows and various floral competitions.