It’s Australia’s biggest celebration of spring; a festival of flowers that takes place in Canberra when winter in finally on the run. Held in Commonwealth Park, on the northern side of Lake Burley Griffin (about five minutes from the CBD), the 2018 festival kicks off on Saturday 15 September and will run until Sunday 14 October. It’s 30 days of blooms, food, entertainment and, every year, inspiration courtesy of a new theme – in 2018, Floriade will celebrate the best of pop culture.
1. The first Floriade was held in 1988 and was supposed to be a massive “one-off” floral tribute, celebrating Australia’s bicentenary and Canberra’s 75th birthday. But it was such a hit that it’s been held every year since and is now the largest flower festival in the southern hemisphere.
2. The festival’s name comes from the Latin word ‘floreat’ which means “may it flourish”.
3. More than one million bulbs and annuals are on display during the festival (these are the flowers that are best-suited to Canberra’s climate). As well as tulips, expect to see a range of pretty flowers including pansies, poppies, violets, ranunculus, hyacinths, irises, daisies, bellis and chrysanthemums.
4. According to HuffPost, if all the bulbs from Floriade were laid out on the ground, they would cover 44 tennis courts!
5. To bring this floral fantasy to life, it takes more than 350 people (volunteers, staff, contractors, traders, caterers, gardeners and site maintenance personnel).
6. As well as admiring the gorgeous flowers at Floriade you can get gardening tips from experts; enjoy musical shows, roving performers and show rides; and take part in everything from photography workshops, cooking classes and flower-arranging courses.
7. As the sun sets over Commonwealth Park (26 to 30 September only) there’s also Floriade NightFest, a ticketed night-time event that lets you see the flowers bathed in vibrant colours thanks to thousands of multicoloured lights. As well as transforming Floriade into an illuminated wonderland, after-dark fun includes stand-up comedy, live music, food and wine under the stars, and even movies at an open-air cinema (Back to the Future and Ghostbusters are screening on the first night).
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8. While NightFest is a ticketed event, entry to Floriade during the day is still free.
9. Close to half a million people enjoy the floral extravaganza every year – the highestnumber was recorded in 2014, when 481,854 people attended.
10. The most famous visitor to Floriade? That would have to be the Queen: HRH visited in 2011 with Prince Phillip.
11. For the absolute best view, take a ride on the ferris wheel which offers fab views from 35 metres above the flowerbeds.
12. When it’s all over, nothing goes to waste. According to World Love Flowers, “the event’s volunteers are offered some of the plants and the remaining flowers are cut and distributed to local nursing homes and hospitals”. Awww!