Friday, April 13, 2012

Haifa International Flower Exhibition

Yesterday we visited the Haifa International Flower Exhibition held all this Passover week in the Hecht Park by the beach. A flower exhibition used to be an annual event in Haifa for many years, but this is the first time one has been held in 19 years.

At the beginning of the week the media reported that the exhibition was so popular that the queues were very long and people started demanding their money back. We went there knowing that we wouldn't get to see everything, and expecting it to be a bit crowded, even on the day before last of the exhibition. The organizers of this event (and others in Israel) have much to learn from other countries. I have visited theme parks and tourist attractions in England, for example, where the flow of visitors was much better managed. However, the organizers deserve credit for encouraging people to park in three parking lots near the southern entrance to Haifa and then providing shuttle buses between the exhibition and the parking lots. This worked efficiently, and I hope such systems will be more widely used in Israel.

The exhibition consisted of nine large domes with differently themed flower installations. We were able to see four of them, and seeing how long we would have had to queue for the others, we decided that four was enough.

The first dome we visited was called "The World of the Senses", and inside it were displays of aromatic and exotic flowers, including orchids and bird of paradise, in small tents people had to enter to experience. It was almost impossible to get close to these tents, partly due to so many people trying to be photographed surrounded by flowers, so we didn't stay long in this dome and moved on to the next one.

Next we visited a dome called "The World of Fantasy". This dome was decorated with giant model flowers and contained some tulips and other flowers. Here the flowers were arranged alongside paths, so it was easier to see and photograph them and the visitors moved through more easily than in the previous dome.

The next dome was "The World of Water", and had flowers arranged inside model ships or standing in bottles, and there were decorations of giant fish. In one area there were soap bubbles floating above the flowers to provide an underwater atmosphere. Some of the displays were impressive, but it was difficult to capture good photographs due to the lighting.

Next we visited "The Land of the Rising Sun", a Japanese themed dome. As expected, the flowers here were arranged tastefully in a minimalistic style, with decorations such as origami birds and a model temple. After the classical music played in the previous domes, here the music was Japanese, which contributed to the atmosphere more than the previous musical selections had.

Having visited these four domes, we wandered around the park. We saw the flower market, and enjoyed the flowers growing in the park as well as some outdoor flower displays that were part of the exhibition. The weather was pleasant, and spring is the ideal time of year for this event.

I hope that next year this event will be better planned. If the organizers can learn something from this year's experience and from overseas attractions, the renewal of this Haifa tradition could be a great annual success.