Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Spring Break: Bank Holidays and Weekends in the World's Most Flowery Destinations

And also this year Spring is coming.
And if you haven’t yet realised, few days ago, around March 20th, the Spring Equinox occured for all the countries in the Northern hemisphere.
This is both the official and the astronomical start of the Spring season, when the whole of Nature awakens after a long winter hibernation: a period of rebirth, renewal and, as it were, resurrection that is rightly celebrated in all cultures of the world.

I want to do with you what Spring does with the cherry trees” is a famous verse of the poet Pablo Neruda that encompasses the wonderful spectacle of spring. And today, in fact, we are going to talk about the splendid cherry trees.
But not only them.
We are going to talk more generally about flowers, plants and trees that for millennia have punctually greeted the return of Spring with a generous tribute of colours and scents.
To celebrate Spring we shall therefore take you to discover some of the most spectacular blossomings in the most evocative and special flowering gardens on our planet:
  1. Keukenhof Park in Holland
  2. The Valley of Roses in Bulgaria
  3. The Sigurtà Garden Park at Valeggio sul Mincio, Italy
  4. The Blue Forest of Halle, Belgium
  5. The blossoming of the cherry trees in Japan.
If you are too busy to take a spring break to admire the awakening of nature, don't worry! We have some inspirational travel ideas for you too.
In our list you'll find some unmissable spring holiday destinations to enjoy the lavender fields in Provence or the flowering desert in South Africa. Therefore, you will have plenty of time to organize your trip to enjoy these spectacles of nature.
  1. The lavender fields in Provence, France
  2. The flowering desert in Namaqualand, South Africa Focus on ProvenceKeukenhof Park in Holland

Keukenhof is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most evocative botanical gardens in the world, in addition to being the largest flowering bulb park in whole Europe and the second in the world, after the Miracle Garden in Dubai.

Here, within a few days, more than 7 million shoots will bloom giving life to more than 800 varieties of tulips and other floral species, including lilies, roses, carnations, hyacinths and orchids, staging a truly unique show in which the main characters are the colours and the perfumes.

Spring break in Holland to see Keukenhof Park
(Photo credit: jthoel)
We find ourselves in Lisse, a small town of little more than 20,000 inhabitants, in southern Holland, about 30 kilometres from Amsterdam to the south-west. Keukenhof Park is the main and only attraction in the region and fortunately, it is easily reachable from the main Dutch cities in less than an hour using public transport (in addition to Amsterdam, Haarlem, The Hague and Delft): it is possible to buy a combination ticket that includes both transport and Park entrance fee, thus avoiding the queue.

Moreover, taking into account the fact that the Park is only open for 8 weeks a year, this usually results in a fairly substantial amount of traffic around the area during the opening period, between April and May. For this reason, for your spring bank holiday we suggest you stay in an area close to the Park, for example the city of Leiden or the region of Noordwijk, and from there cycle to Keukenhof in perfect Dutch style.

The ideal solution would be to coincide the Park visit with the day on which the so-called Flower Parade takes place, a colourful parade of floats adorned with dozens of floral decorations: the parade leaves from Noordwijk and finishes at Haarlem, passing of course through Keukenhof.

A visit to Keukenhof is also the perfect occasion to be with the family and spend some quality time with your children: the Park also offers lots of entertainments for the smaller visitors.

The Valley of the Roses in Bulgaria

In the central zone of Bulgaria, between the mountain ranges of the Balkans and Sredna Gora, is located the Valley of the Roses. It is here that for centuries the rose bushes of the Damask Rose have been cultivated, from which is produced the famous and much-sought rose oil, used very much in the perfume and cosmetic industries.

At Kazanlak, one of the main centres for rose oil extraction, the flowers aren’t cultivated in greenhouses, but in the open air; for this reason, from May to June, the area is the chosen place for a host of tourists who come here especially to see this floral paradise from which a delicate rose perfume emanates.

For your Spring holidays in Bulgaria, our advice is to spend a night at Kazanlak, then wake up at dawn and to partecipate in with the harvesting of the precious petals.
This process, that requires much patience and mastery, seeing the difficulty of removing the flowers one by one from the spiny stems, is usually carried out by female hands and has to take place very early in the morning, because the roses conserve their perfume whilst they are still drenched with morning dew.
All the collected flowers are placed in wicker baskets and then transported to the local distillery. If you’d like to know more about the Damask Rose and its cultivation, we suggest you visit the Rose Museum at Kazanlak.

Spring Break in Bulgaria to see the Rose Valley
The rose harvest days represent a moment of celebration for the whole local population.
Since 1903, the traditional Rose Festival of Kazanlak have been taking place during the first weekend of June, with lots of folk events, flower markets and typical products with a rose base, such as Rose Liqueur, or rose petal jam called Banitza.
Don’t miss the opportunity of visiting the nearby Thracian tomb of Kazanlak, a masterpiece of Hellenistic art dated to the 4th century B.C., and counted among the World Heritage of UNESCO.

The Sigurtà Garden Park at Valeggio sul Mincio, Italy

Situated at Valeggio sul Mincio, the Sigurtà Garden Park represents the most important flowering display in Italy. The beauty of this park, together with its vicinity to Lake Garda, makes Valeggio sul Mincio the ideal Spring break destinations for families.
In this nature park of around 60 hectares, there are more than one million tulips, with varieties from Turkey and Holland, thousands of roses, hundreds of aquatic plants like the poetic water-lilies and many other floral species, including dahlias, iris, lotus flowers, etc.
For those botany fans and also those who are not, the following link enables you to find the Flowering Calendars to enjoy this spectacle of Nature:

The blooming that is most appreciated by the public remains that of the tulips, that occurs from mid-March to April. In fact, in the Park there are more than 300 varieties of tulips, that offer all visitors an unforgettable triumph of colours.

Spring weekend at Sigurtà Garden Park in Verona
(Photo credit: be_am25)
Within the Park, there isn’t just natural beauty, but there are also other places of interest, for example the Labyrinth at the centre of which rises a tower like the one in the Bois de Boulogne Park in Paris, the Avenue of Roses where more than 30,000 different varieties of roses grow, the Flowering Lakes with their placid water-lilies and vivacious koi carp, and the Tà Farm, where the little ones can make friends, with nurseries, goats and chickens.

The Blue Forest at Halle, Belgium

It seems like an enchanted forest, right out of a book of fairy-tales!” This is the first impression of most people who visit this area.
The Halle Forest (Hallerbos in Flemish) is in the region of Brabant, about 15 kilometres from Brussels, and every year it attracts thousands of visitors, eager to capture the phenomenon of the hyacinth flowering.

What makes this forest unique is the immense expanse of wild hyacinths, from the species Hyacinthoides non-scripta, that every Spring (usually in the second half of April), burst into bloom at the feet of the giant sequoias and beech trees, offering an intense shade of blue to this magnificent wood.

In Spring, the wild hyacinth, initially a mauvish colour, are obscured by the Beech foliage, which do not filter the sunlight, thus taking on this beautiful intense blue colour, that has made the forest famous and given it the title of the Blue Forest.

blooming at Blue Forest in Belgium for spring
(Photo credit: JF Schmitz)
As well as appreciating this floral wonder, the forest is inhabited by around a hundred species of birds, including black woodpeckers, and owls, and also foxes, squirrels and wild hares. The Park offers different trails to go through by bicycle, horse or on foot to admire the animals and plants of the wood.
At the following site you can find all the information relating to trails and visits to the Park: .

The Cherry Blossom In Japan

A Spring break in Japan is really magical.
Between the end of March (and earlier in some areas) and the beginning of May, the country is literally dressed in pink, each region according to its position.
In Japanese, it is called Hanami and it is a real tradition that consists, quite simply, of enjoying the ephemeral beauty of the trees in blossom, with particular attention to the cherry blossom, known in Japanese by the term sakura.

Spring vacation to see Hanami Cherry Blossom in Japan
(Photo Credit: Naoki Ishii)
The pink wave, if we may re-christen it so, begins in the south and moves steadily north as the temperature rises. The Okinawa islands are the first to flower, in January; in the main cities of Japan, Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, the blossoming reaches its maximum splendour between the end of March and the beginning of April, while on the island of Hokkaido, the most northern, it slides to May.

The Cherry tree is very widespread in Japan, but it is just at this time that the landscape undergoes a marvellous metamorphosis, when the cherry blossom transforms the parks, the streets and the banks of the countryside into enormous coloured canvases, worthy of the most expert painters. And the humble Cherry Tree has thus become a main character of Japanese art, literature and culture.

The Lavender Fields of Provence, France

Another of Nature’s magnificent shows that we want to remind you takes place in Provence, in southern France.
Here, the lavender flowering, between the end of June and mid-August, according to the area, is an event that is deeply appreciated by the locals, and celebrated with city festivals.

A Spring holidays to Provence will definitely intoxicate your senses, offering unique landscapes to the eyes, extraordinary perfumes to the nose and also great flavours to the palate.
In the area there are many fields where it is possible to admire vast expanses of the unmistakeable shade of purple, that give truly unique sights. And the best way to fully experience the territory is without doubt to spend several nights in a hotel immersed in the calm of the Provençal countryside.
Otherwise, you can book a hotel in Aix en Provence, one of most famous cities in the Provence region also because it's the hometown of the painter Paul Cézanne.

One of the most evocative places from which to contemplate the beauty of the flowering lavender is the area around the Abbey of Sénanque, a few kilometres from the village of Gordes. Reachable by way of a winding path in the middle of the woods, this Cistercian Abbey is surrounded by fields of blue and purple lavender, that will give you a picture postcard view.

The flowering lavander in Provence for spring
(Photo credit: Salva Barbera)
Another very particular place to visit during your Spring break is the tiny village of Lagarde d’Apt: just a church, a restaurant and two lavender distilleries, but all around are immense lavender fields (a good 80 hectares) and there you can admire while strolling along a path through the wild Provençal countryside.

And you can’t visit Provence without taking home a lovely souvenir, based on lavender: from beauty products, like oil, soap and perfumes made with the essence of this plant, to the very famous lavender honey.

The Flowering Desert of Namaqualand, South Africa

In our list of the most beautiful and extraordinary blossomings in the world, you can’t miss the so-called flowering desert of Namaqualand , one of the most incredible floral phenomena of the whole planet.

It seems incredible that right in Namaqualand, one of the driest zones of South Africa, where the temperature reaches 40˚C during the day, while at night it falls to -8˚C, such a miracle of Nature can occur.

It’s here, after the rainy season, between the months of July and September, that this sterile desert in the province of the Northern Cape becomes a marvellous carpet of daisies and other flowers of all colours: from white to orange, from red to yellow, from blue to purple. Just think, in only one square metre there are some 10 to 20 different floral species.

the flowering desert of Namaqualand, South Africa for spring breaks
(Photo credit: Martin Heigan)
So don’t miss this exceptional opportunity, that only takes place once a year, book your flight to South Africa in advance on


Apart of uncovering some places that most people don't know about, we hope our post has given you some interesting ideas for your Spring break.
After all, the goal of our blog is to inspire you, and let your mind travel with us waiting for your Spring vacation to come true.

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