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Battle of the Flowers – Jersey’s Flower Festival

Posted on 2nd July 2013
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karnival Costume Blog on the Battle of the Flowers Costume Party Theme
Clown Logo of Karnival Costumes your Fancy Dress SpecialistsIf you’re looking to combine a holiday with a festival and the thought of traveling too far is putting you off, then we think that the Jersey Flower Festival held every August is going to be perfect for you. This is an annual event in the calendar since 1902 and conceived originally as a way of celebrating the Coronation of King Edward Vii and Queen Alexandra, during August this tiny island comes alive with its own parade of flowers. Proving to be a huge hit with both locals and tourists alike a tradition was born that has only been interrupted by the two wars.
Originally involving horse drawn carts converted for the occasion into floats each covered with a mass of flowers it was natural for the men accompanying the floats to remove individual flowers and pass or throw them to the ladies in the crowd. Naturally enough, no sooner had this started a few flowers were then thrown back to the floats either to signify unrequited love or simply out of devilment. Either way, without truly realising it at the time, this gave rise to the tradition of the Battle of the Flowers which remained a purely local event until the early 19502 when a group of enterprising local businessmen decided that the colour and spectacle surrounding the actual Battle of the Flowers and the procession itself, should become one of the focal points in the growth of the burgeoning tourism industry which was being fuelled in part by the availability of cheaper air transport.
An unintended consequence of the rapid growth in popularity of the Festival tourists who didn’t really understand why so many flowers were being thrown back and forth was that the physical throwing of flowers abandoned during the mid-sixties with the focus of the battle being redirected and confined to the best float. Today there is fierce competition between each of the parade groups in preparing their float to win the most coveted and prestigious award, the Prix d'Honneur which although there are other awards, remains the major title for the best 40-45 foot long float decorated using nothing but natural flowers.
For those parade floats that have used paper flowers as an alternative to natural blooms, an equivalent award the Prix d'Honneur de Papier has been created. But it remains the awards made for those floats decorated using only natural flowers, primarily chrysanthemums and astors, which are the most coveted.  To ensure that there are sufficient flowers for the floats all of which have intricate and painstakingly created designs, many thousands are shipped in by sea and air from both mainland UK and Holland and this had led to strong links being established.
In today’s processions it is not uncommon to see the spectacular floral designs of the floats being joined by competing groups of revelers dressed in colour fancy dress costumes. The theme of the costumes is chosen to compliment the overall design of the float being represented and recently these themes have included Dutch national costume, Grecian warriors, beautiful oriental maidens and pre-historic cavewomen all of whom wore fancy dress to create the required look.
Obviously, creating a large floral decorative display using natural flowers is way beyond the means of most s party organisers but there are some ideas that you could carry over into your own Battle of the Flowers costume party.  You could create a backdrop using paper flowers. This can be as simple as gluing ‘scrunched’ coloured tissue paper squares onto a large backing board backdrop, we would suggest either large sheets of card or alternatively opened corrugated boxes painted white on the side you’re going to use. Draw out your design, you could try to copy some of the previous winners of the Prix d'Honneur de Papier, and then infill each section with the required tissue. It will take time and planning to complete but the results will give you a great party backdrop which can easily be turned into a photo-booth to be used later in the party.
For your costume suggestions, if you have based your decoration on a previous entry we would suggest that you follow their theme giving the whole party a coordinated feel.  Alternatively you simply adopt a laissez-faire approach and just let individuals select their own costume theme. Either way, at Karnival Costumes you’ll find all the costume choice you need.  For the remainder of the decoration, this will give you a perfect excuse to recycle a lot of your Beach Party or Luau decorations in fact, anything with flowers in it.  On your table you could use candles or our 33cm tall table torches.
So if you can’t get to see the actual festival in Jersey but you are looking for a super summer party theme, then with a little imagination you can create your own Battle of the Flowers in your own garden!  And in case you're wondering just how good the real thing is, this is just a snippet of the night time parade taken from YouTube.
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