The fresh scent of spring: rose festivals around the world
We may not have travelled along a pathway of roses all of our lives, but we certainly can take time to find and smell some roses along the way.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the first day of spring (aka the Spring Equinox) is on the 20th March, when the sun crosses the Equator and starts moving northwards. Although many city dwellers may see the odd crocus and daffodil poking through dead leaves around this time, March can still be quite chilly and the transformation from winter to spring each day is largely imperceptible. Usually it is only at the end of May that we realise that tree branches, once bare and lifeless, are now lifting their bright green leaves to the sun. The fresh spring air beckons. If you are looking to take time off to ‘smell the roses’, read on to discover the best rose festivals around the world.
Peekaboo the Queen of Roses in Bulgaria
Responsible for producing 85% of the world’s rose oil, the Rose Valley in Bulgaria is abuzz with hundreds of women carrying willow baskets and cutting each blossom by hand from May to June. The centre of the rose oil industry is Kazanlak, and this is where the Rose Festival takes place in the first week of June. The event was first celebrated in 1903, and over the years it has evolved into an international event, enticing tourists and guests from around the world to visit the valley. Expect to see the harvesting ritual, a parade, and a beauty pageant where beautiful girls in the town aim to be crowned the ‘Queen of Roses’.
Dress it up with rosewater in Morocco
Located about six hours’ drive away from Marrakech, there’s also a valley of roses in Morocco where the town of Kalaat M’Gouna is home to the country’s largest rosewater and rose oil manufacturers. Each May, the Festival of Roses takes place and everyone comes together to celebrate the harvest with traditional Berber food, music, dancing, a parade, and of course, the crowning of a Rose Queen. There isn’t a set date for the festival so it’s best to check with the Morocco Tourist Office before you go. Don’t know what to do with rosewater? Put a drop or two into your Moroccan mint tea, or spray it onto your prosecco glass for extra finesse.
Win a Gold Medal Rose award in Oregon, USA
Known as the City of Roses, Portland in Oregon has an International Rose Test Garden where 200 rose cultivars from around the world are tested each year, with the best winning the Gold Medal award. In June each year, the city also hosts the Rose Festival, a month-long festival that includes three popular parades, concerts, and the Annual Spring Rose show where rose growers from across the Pacific Northwest participate in a tradition that’s been going on since 1889.
Find the best bloom in London, UK
There isn’t a rose festival in London, but Queen Mary’s Gardens in Regents Park is home to over 12,000 roses, including the ‘Royal Parks’ rose which has a shade of yellowish-orange similar to the lovely colour of apricot. The best time to visit is in the first two weeks of June where the roses are in full bloom and the pleasant scent fills the air – you can smell as many roses as you like.
Enjoy your time off with roses.