For me, Brussels has a special charm as it was the first place I ever visited in Europe. During my 3-day layover in Belgium as a summer flight attendant, I fell in love with Brussels' cobblestone streets in the historic area, its gothic architecture, the chocolate shoppes on the corners, and the parks with beautiful fountains. It was the first place I tasted steak au poivre and saw a real palace.
Brussels has a lot to offer for corporate groups including 3 large conference centers, hotels in all price categories, one of Europe's most vibrant urban beaches. Its accommodating Convention Bureau provides welcome desks at the international airport and train stations, and, for large conferences, a dedicated concierge and information desk at the venue.
While groups will appreciate a visit to Brussels at any time, one of the most colorful times to visit is its biennial rollout of the flower carpet, for the celebration in which 800,000 fresh begonias are brought to Brussels an woven together to form a floral tapestry in the square in front of the Grand-Palace.
It takes two full years to design and prepare for each Flower Carpet. Then, 120 volunteers work for 48 hours and place 300 flowers per square meter to fashion the intricate patterns.
The first floral carpet was spread in 1971, and the next one will be in place from the evening of August 14 - 19, 2012. In past years, themes have included Brussels' lace, Versailles, Art Nouveau and the Middle Ages.
This year's carpet will honor the diversity of Africa, with patterns reflecting designs from Ethiopia, Congo, Nigeria, Botswana and the Cameroons. This year, anthuriums will also be incorporated into the design. Musical entertainment will be provided by Tuur Florizoone and his Belgian-African group Mixtuur. A fusion of jazz and traditional Congolese music, Mixtuur conveys through music the best of what Europe and Africa have to offer
The opening will take place on August 14th with an invitation-only official inauguration at the “Maison du Roi” and City Hall, fireworks and a concert.
Electrifying sound and light shows will take place every evening when the carpet is available to be viewed by the public.
It's not too late for your group to make it to Brussels for this year's celebration or too early to start planning for 2014
Photo Credit: Copyright © Avi&Gulli, Gaston Batistini, Labo River, Michel Block