9th August 1902

The first Battle of Flowers takes place

Jersey staged its first ever Battle of Flowers in 1902, to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandria. It was only supposed to happen once but went down so well it became an annual fixture.

According to the Battle of Flowers website, the event got its name as it was originally intended that flowers and petals would be torn from the floats and thrown at the crowd. Nowadays, the ‘battle’ is more about winning a prize for the best float or costume in the parade.

A long tradition

Jersey wasn’t the first place to host a Battle of Flowers. Sporting Life carried a short note in its issue of 14 July 1887 stating that on “Saturday next… for the first time in England, a Battle of Flowers’. Five tons of flowers for the free use of visitors. Three Military Banks, and Musical Promenade”. The event might already have been familiar to readers who had travelled abroad, with The Standard of 11 July describing the event as “an imitation of those contests so often fought during the Summer in Continental cities”. In February 1855, the Prince of Wales took part in a Battle of Flowers in the south of France. Some papers reported the event taking place in Nice but others said it was Cannes. Battle of Flowers is also the name of a waltz composed by Felix Burns.

The Northern Daily Mail reported on the British Battle of Flowers of 16 July 1887, which took place in an agricultural hall and seemed not to have been entirely successful. “The management announced that ‘the idea is that visitors should, in a playful and polite manner, throw flowers at each other, more especially between opposite sexes. The management trust that visitors will desist from being in any way rough.’ The visitors, saddened by the thought of how gay they were expected to be, were scrupulously polite. They wandered up and down the verdant aisled of ‘Arcadia’, over bridges, or into summer-houses, carrying the little bunches of flowers with which they were freely provided, with an almost devout air. The merry comedy of the ‘Battle of Flowers’ was never done into such sorry tragedy before.”

Five tons of flowers

The East London Observer described the event comprising five tons of flowers, given to visitors “desiring to enter into the mimic strife which is so popular at the gay carnivals of Southern France. Merrie Islingtowne will resound with the loud artillery of laugh and jest in this modern and joyous War of the Roses, and coupled with the other extraordinary attractions of this charming resort, the Battle of Flowers will make as many people happy as its prototype in the days of York and Lancaster made miserable”.

Jersey’s Battle of Flowers was suspended for the duration of both world wars but now takes place at the end of the second week of August every year. Since 1989, it has also incorporated a moonlight parade of illuminated floats, followed by a fireworks display.


FREE Jersey history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Jersey's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want.



Other events that occured in August