Floriade is an annual flower display of truly international standards. If you are in Canberra during Floriade you should not miss it though it is probably better to say if you are in town when it’s on you won’t miss it as, chances are, that will be the reason you are in town!
This magnificent and immensely colourful flower display of exotic bulbs and annuals is held every spring (Sept – October – lest my northern hemisphere reader be confused) and while it has a different theme each year – it’s broadly similar. For example Floriade 2013 was inspired by the fact that that year marked the centenary of the establishment of Canberra. As such the overall design was strongly influenced by the geometry of Canberra’s original plan by Walter Burley Griffin and the theme Beautiful Innovation. The layout of the flowers in individual garden-beds was inspired by the great institutions of Canberra – the Australian War Memorial, Old Parliament House, the National Gallery, the National Library and may others. To be honest some of this inspiration was easier to see than others but the flowers were beautiful throughout, as they are every year. My attached pictures are from over a few years.
Floriade began in 1988 as a spectacular commemoration of Australia’s Bicentenary and Canberra’s 75th birthday.
Floriade attracts thousands of interstate and overseas visitors each year with the result that hotels rooms in Canberra are scarce and at a premium price-wise. You are well advised to book early.
In addition to the wonderful garden beds and flowers there is a great range of other street style entertainment, gardening demonstrations, lots of food outlets from basic to high end, rides for the kids and gift shops. A great family event.
Each year sees an improvement in the range of quality entertainment at Stage 88 in the park – one of my pictures below depict an excellent gospel group the repertoire of which included a moving rendition of South Africa’s national anthem.
Don’t become so intoxicated with all the flowers that you miss out on the garden gnome display (you can paint and display your own) or forget to sit and listen to the Australia Fair Street Organ. Hopefully both items will feature again in future years, as they have for many years.
Allocate at least half a day for your visit.
In more recent years Floriade has also opened its doors (ok, gates) on a number of nights for Nightfest. During this the flowers came alive again with a spectacular light show (an illuminated wonderland!) and crowds are entertained by live bands on Stage 88 while all the other entertainment and activity also continues into the night.
Nightfest is, alas, not free. See below for opening hours and costs.
Floriade is held in Commonwealth Park, a five-minute walk from Canberra’s city centre. This is the best way to get there and is well signposted. Parking at Commonwealth Park is limited. Bus services are available – including a free service from the city centre.
Day time – 9am to 5pm weekdays; 9am to 5.30pm weekends and public holidays; Last entry is 30 minutes before close. You cannot do it justice in 30 minutes.
Admission charge: Free during the day
Nightfest – approx 6.30pm to 10.30pm. 2016 – $27 with concessions available.