Your essential guide to Floriade

It’s always a pleasant reminder that spring has sprung when the annual Floriade festival kicks off in the nation’s capital. What was intended to be a one-off celebration of Australia's bicentenary and Canberra’s 75th anniversary in 1988 has become one of the most loved events on the country’s cultural calendar, with entertainment, music, food, workshops and so much more.

Can't get to Canberra this year? Scroll down for popular flower festivals in your state.

The flowers
Of course, the centrepiece of this spring festival is the floral display. This year, organisers are taking Floriade “back to basics”, with more than a million buds across 100+ species of tulips, planted in 192 portable planter boxes.

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Are you heading to Canberra to explore the stunning flower displays at Floriade?

In addition, 14 garden beds will be filled with stunning displays of vibrant colours, each with their own theme, including ‘Surf’s Up’, ‘60s Revival’, ‘Let’s Tessellate’ and ‘From The Netherlands With Love’, which is home to the decennial Floriade World Horticultural Expo.

In addition to exploring the beautiful gardens, there are a number of horticultural workshops on offer, run by The Floral Society. Here, you'll learn how to arrange flowers into floral cones, boutonnieres and hair pieces. Spaces are limited, so make sure to register here.

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Visit Floriade for the flowers and much more (Image: Facebook / Floriade)

Once you've tried your hand at arrangements, why not head to the perfume-making workshop run by Kat Snowden, who is the founder of Clean Slate Skin Care. Again, places are limited, and this workshop costs $75 per person. Book here.

NightFest
As the sun sets over Commonwealth Park, Floriade organisers turn their attention to the razzle dazzle of NightFest. For five nights, this after-dark experience will keep the Park alive and buzzing, with a spectacular light display, comedy shows, music and local produce for sale.

Designed by an expert lighting team, the gardens will be transformed into an “illuminated wonderland” of stunning installations, with ‘roving entertainers’ keeping visitors amused and in awe, including circus performers, flame twirlers and more!

Head to The Parlour to catch funny man Jimeoin, or laugh the night away with other comedians including Becky Lucas, Tom Walker and Michael Hing.

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Be sure to visit Floriade's NightFest for amazing light displays (Image: Facebook / Floriade)

Not to be missed, the night markets will feature stalls of fresh, local foods, beers, ciders and wines. Have a taste of what’s on offer, and don't forget to meet and greet the local growers and producers who are more than happy to share their foodie knowledge.

You will need a ticket to get into NightFest, which you can book here. General admission is $27 per adult. Or splurge on a premium ticket ($145 per adult), which includes ferry transport to and from the event, access to the Premium Lounge and exclusive entertainment, canapes and drinks.

Dog’s Day Out
On Saturday 15 October, Floriade will open its gates to our favourite four-legged friends, with dogs allowed to roam the gardens alongside their owners. There will be competitions and prizes for the best dressed dogs, and plenty of demonstrations and presentations for dog owners. The Dog’s Day Out event proudly supports Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

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Are you going to take your dog to Floriade this year? (Image: Facebook / Floriade)

Get active in the gardens
An outdoor event like Floriade is the perfect opportunity to get some exercise, as you stroll by the gardens and stalls. For those looking for a little extra movement, the Heart Foundation has organised a daily social walk at 8am in the beautiful setting of the gardens. A number of local Canberra institutions and foreign embassies from Qatar to Malaysia to Uruguay will host the walks, all in support of the Heart Foundation’s Walk of Nations 2016. Register your interest here.

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There are plenty of oppurtunities to get active at Floriade this year
(Image: Facebook / Floriade)

In addition, free yoga sessions will be held in the peaceful gardens every Sunday morning at 8.30am. For more information on Sunday Yoga at Floriade visit the website.

The Gnome Knoll
Get in touch with your creative side at the Gnome Knoll, where people of all ages and abilities are encouraged to buy a gnome to gloss and paint. The finished masterpieces are then put on display on the Knoll for all to enjoy with prizes awarded for the best decorated.

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Feeling creative? Paint a gnome for the Gnome Knoll (Image: Facebook / Floriade)

The Gnome Knoll will be open over the weekends, and during the ACT school holidays (26 September to 7 October). Funds raised will be put back into the Canberra community, with the Gnome Knoll being run by the Rotary Club of Canberra East.

Getting there and around
Canberra is a three hour drive from Sydney, or seven from Melbourne. Canberra’s airport has regular domestic flights from major cities, and three trains operate between Sydney’s Central station and Canberra each day.

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Getting to the capital from Sydney is easy! 

Once in the city, leave the car at your accommodation. Especially on weekends, Floriade can get very busy, so the best option is to take public transport. Commonwealth Park is only a five minute walk from the Canberra city centre, and a free shuttle service takes visitors from the city to Commonwealth Park. The city’s ACTION buses can pick you up from the suburbs. 

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Floriade is a very popular event, so leave the car and avoid the hassle! 

Can’t get to Canberra?
Floriade isn’t the only spring flower festival in Australia, with plenty of other stunning floral displays across the country.

In Toowoomba, the annual Carnival of Flowers held in mid to late September promises spectacular gardens, live music, local food and much more.

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Explore the vibrant flower festival in Toowoomba
(Image: Facebook / Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers)

In South Australia, the Renmark Rose Festival held in October is all about beautiful rose gardens, with plenty to explore.

In Western Australia, the Kings Park Festival in Perth runs from 1-30 September and features an incredible display of world-famous WA wildflowers, the largest such display in the world.

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Kings Park comes alive with the colour of WA wildflowers this spring!
(Image: Facebook / Kings Park)

Victoria has no shortage of flower festivals, with the quaint town of Bright holding its 28th Bright Spring Festival from mid to late October. The festival includes beautiful open gardens, delicious fresh food and local wines, and an amazing fireworks display.

Closer to Melbourne is the Tesselaar Tulip Festival, which runs from early September to 4 October. The festival holds themed weekends, including Irish, Dutch and Turkish cultural weekends, a children’s weekend for the younger ones and a food, wine and jazz weekend for the adults. The Tulip Festival is held in Silvan, a breezy hour drive from Melbourne city.

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Be amazed at the long rows of colour at the Tessealaar Tulip Festival
(Image: Facebook / Tesselaar Tulip Festival)

In New South Wales, the Bathurst Spring Spectacular is the place to be, with two days of beautifully presented gardens on the 29th and 30th October. There’s plenty to do in Bathurst year round, including a drive around Mt Panorama, or pan for some gold in the rivers around the historic goldfields.

Tassie’s state-wide Blooming Tasmania runs from September to 2 October. There are plenty of open gardens to explore, walks to enjoy, and of course, Tassie’s famed food and wine scene to indulge in.

Floriade 2016 runs from 17 September to 16 October, 9am–5pm weekdays, and 9am–9.30pm weekends.

NightFest runs from 28 September to 2 October, 6.30pm–10.30pm Wednesday to Sunday only.

What is your favourite spring festival in the world? Let us know in the comments below. 

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