Tuesday, 19 November 2019
Parys: Is there anything dreamier than being surrounded by thousands and thousands of flowers? Just imagine all those heavenly bursts of colours and scents. Except it’s better than a dream.
It is the annual Free State Madeira Flower Festival, and it is tumbling onto the streets of Parys in all its glorious magnificence later this month. 
A joint venture between the Free State government and the Autonomous State of Madeira and hosted by The Free State Gambling, Liquor and Tourism Authority, the Free State Madeira Flower Festival transforms the quaint little town of Parys into a dazzling wonderland, complete with a kilometre-long procession of floral floats, dancers, performers, and larger-than-life puppets.
Created with over 200,000 flowers from local flower farmers, the Big 5 Route inspired floral floats are designed by Madeiran master floriculturist João Egídio. Celebrated for his Madeira Flower Festival creations, Egídio uses his time in South Africa to mentor local up-and-coming flower arrangers in the art of designing floral pieces on a grand scale.
And while these grand floral designs are always the stars of the show, there is still plenty more to delight festival goers. Among last year’s most loved and talked about favourites were the flower carpets portraying Tata Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu as part of the centenary celebrations.
Flowers upon flowers, beauty, creativity, music, art, theatre, dance, workshops, exhibitions, and loads of family-friendly entertainment, this two-day exhibition is a feast of joy in every sense.
Now in its fourth year, the Free State Madeira Flower Festival has become a highly anticipated event on the South African calendar, attracting more than 40 000 visitors, and boosting the local economy.
The local flower industry is also blooming.  The strategic partnership between the Free State and Madeira governments has provided South Africa with a critical advantage. 
The Free State Department of Agriculture has also assisted 5 SMMEs in the floriculture sector. These SMMEs are now farming their own flowers and are already thriving, supplying local retailers with the goal of expanding to export internationally.  
This year, the Free State Madeira Flower Festival takes place between the 28 November to 1 December 2019 in Parys, and entrance is free.