What is the Battle of Flowers?
One of the most impressive floral festivals in Europe. Jersey’s annual August carnival, brings together a spectacle of hand flowered floats, entertainment and an array of costumes that creates a superb carnival atmosphere over 2 days.
The origins of the Battle lie in 1902, during the coronation of Kind Edward Vll and Queen Alexandra. Islanders decided to hold a parade in their honour, with horse-drawn floats covered in flowers taking to the waterfront streets of Jersey. There was a tradition of picking flowers from the floats and throwing them to the audience; this quickly developed into flowers being thrown back, and the ‘Battle of the Flowers’ was born.
One of Jersey’s most popular events, the Battle of Flowers is an opportunity for Jersey to show off its very best floats, performers and dancers. With a large number of locals taking part and many visitors coming to Jersey for ‘The Battle’ year after year, Battle weekend is a treat for all.
The festival took a break during the Second World War and German occupation, but was revived during the 1950s and has gone from strength to strength ever since. Today the Battle of Flowers is a community event that involves the whole island and attracts many visitors year after year. Floats of all sizes compete for a variety of prizes and honours, with the large float class winner being awarded the Prix d’Honneur.
The ‘battle’ element came from the practice of tearing petals from the creations and covering onlookers with them in the hope they would be thrown back. Save for the wartime years, the parade has taken place annually and has grown into one of the largest carnivals in Europe. Today, the floats have also grown from small horse drawn carriages to fully animated creative artworks, sometimes 45 feet long!
Battle planning is a major pastime in Jersey with much thought and preparation taking place throughout the year. All ages take part with float entries from all the parishes plus businesses, schools, organisations and family entries. Competing for the coveted Prix d’Honneur and other prizes, so many people are involved and preparation for dance routines, costumes and painting and decorating of the floats will be taking place all over the island during the year. Animation, costumes and crowd interaction are all counted as well as the fantastic array of flowers which are often freshly glued to the floats the evening before.
The Battle of Flowers takes place during early August every year.
With the cry of ‘Let Battle Commence!’ the floats enter the arena in Victoria Avenue, letting spectators view the dazzling creations for the first time. The carnival atmosphere is electric with seated and standing areas for viewing the visual and musical extravaganza. Floats come in all variety of shape and size and the effort taken to plan themes is a credit to all those taking part. Past themes have included ‘Beyond the Barricade’, ‘Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines’ ‘Wonderland’ and “Hanamachi” to name some of the top prizewinners and if you’ve never seen a floral dalek or 8 foot elephant made of flowers, this just might be the place!
The battle also has a ‘Miss Battle, ‘Mr Battle’ and ‘Miss Junior Battle’ to represent it, usually chosen from local people. However past winners have included Petula Clark (who was entitled ‘First Lady of Flowers,’) Roy Castle, Stirling Moss and Gareth Gates.
Once the parade is over everyone can enjoy the carnival and fun fair. Most of the shops in Jersey close on Battle day but there are stalls and refreshments of every description lining the streets.
In 1989 a Moonlight Parade was added to the celebrations. The wonderful floral floats take on a new demeanour as they become magically illuminated for an evening parade. There is a great party atmosphere to the evening which culminates in a fantastic firework display.