FIRST LOOK: A Downton Abbey Float Is Heading to the Rose Parade
The float honoring the show's final season will feature more than 60,000 roses
The Rose Parade is getting a little bit of the English countryside this year.
In honor of Downton Abbey‘s final season, Masterpiece on PBS is bringing a float that recreates the Crawley family estate, and PEOPLE has the exclusive First Look at what the finished project will look like.
The float captures the English rose gardens and green lawns of the state, and even features a 1919 Bentley. When all is said and done, the float will feature more than 60,000 roses, taking approximately 2,000 to build and 6,000 hours to decorate.
The float was designed by Paradiso Parade Floats, and its creative director Charles Meier admits the pressure was intense – particularly since Downton Abbey is one of his favorite shows.
“We think it’s really going to capture the elegance and sophistication that people associate with the show,” Meier tells PEOPLE.
While sketching ideas for the float, he had the theme to Downton running nonstop on his iPod.
“This float is going to feature thousands of English Garden Roses, which are very rarely used in the Rose Parade because they are so fragile,” he says. “That means we can’t place those flowers on the float until just the day before the parade.”
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Highclere Castle isn’t known for its roses, so the team took some liberties to make the float honor the show while also fitting into the tradition of the parade.
“The thing that makes the Rose Parade special is everything is alive and to see it in person, it’s pretty magical,” says Meier. “All of us from time to time need an experience of extravagant beauty for no good reason at all, just to be reminded that there are these amazing things in our world.”
The Rose Parade will be broadcast live on Jan. 1 (check local listings), and Downton Abbey returns for its sixth and final season Jan. 3 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS Masterpiece.