Floriade is Australia's largest flower festival and the perfect excuse to grab some snacks and take a road trip to the country’s capital. Just over three hours’ drive from central Sydney, Canberra is home to this epic month-long celebration of spring that not only features flowers but comedy, food, art and music. Running from 15 September to 14 October, the festival is a feast for the senses with every colour bloom imaginable.
Commonwealth Park, on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin, in Canberra will host the one million plus bulbs that have been planted in preparation for the festival. This year, the entire festival will bop to the beat of retro pop culture. The who’s who of the 20th century will be represented from Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson to the elusive Where’s Wally.
There are plenty of flowerbeds to explore that adhere to the pop culture theme and even more fantastic photo opportunities. One flowerbed will reflect the bright primary colours of Australian artist Ken Done’s creations alongside a Rubik’s cube inspired bed.
Entry to Floriade is free which leaves you with plenty of change to spend on groovy local arts and crafts. The markets at Floriade are particularly noteworthy with lovely local art, handmade goodies and lifestyle products available for purchase. With Jazz in the Park every Sunday of the festival, there are plenty of free activities to enjoy.
Visitors will have the opportunity to get their hands dirty with a number of inspired workshops held in The Greenhouse. There will be terrarium building workshops alongside kokedama, a Japanese craft that involves binding plants together to create mossy orbs. The much-loved brand Lush will be running a workshop too with lucky attendees able to create their own bath bombs.
There are plenty of opportunities to learn something new with a spate of horticultural themed talks to attend. Angie Thomas will let you know the best ways to not kill your house plants whilst Alexx Stuart, author of “Low Tox Life”, will enlighten her audience with simple solutions to replacing household chemicals and beauty products.
Stick around because Nightfest takes over between 26–30 September. Visitors will be able to revel in the crisp spring air all night long with illuminated flowerbeds, light installations and an abundance of local food and drink stalls. The entire four-hectare display takes on an even more ethereal tone at night with flower beds lit up in all directions.
A carefully curated program of nightly entertainment is available during Nightfest. Wednesday will see visitors enjoying the open-air cinema accompanied by the smell of sweet tulips and freshly popped popcorn. This year, “Ghostbusters” and “Back to the Future” are set to screen. Thursday and Friday are reserved for music with artists like Jeff Duff and Kate Miller-Heidke making an appearance. Saturday night will see Cell Block 69 take revellers back in time with a huge retro party. A MA15+ comedy fest, on 30 September, features the likes of comedians Arj Barker and Akmal Saleh for a Sunday evening full of belly laughs.
Floriade’s floral feast might be the drawcard, but Canberra is home to some of the country’s best food and wine so it’s definitely worth the drive. Don’t forget to check out the world-class galleries and museums that are scattered around the city whilst you are in town.