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Australian Times


Be sure to see Canberra in bloom

April 15, 2013 by Anna Johnson in Travel with 0 Comments

Canberra’s iconic annual Floriade Festival will once again see the city’s Commonwealth Park in spectacular bloom between the 14th of September and the 13th October 2013. The magical Nightfest will light the park and the skies beyond between the 25th and 29th September.

Drawing on its vast territorial variety and richness of flora, fauna and culture, Australia hosts some of the most special events on the world calendar. Since its conception in 1988, Canberra’s celebration of Spring in the form of the Floriade festival and Nightfest – has drawn over 40,000 visitors , local, interstate and international.  Since its inception in 1988, Floriade has been held in Canberra’s Commonwealth Park, showcasing more than one million flowers in bloom and offering a host of inspiring demonstrations aimed at bringing out the green fingers of the greenest of gardeners, as well as raft of family activities for all ages.

This celebration of Spring was initially conceived as part of Australia’s Bicentenary commemorations and Canberra’s 75th birthday. The first Floriade Festival showcased the exotic bulbs and annuals which grow so well in Canberra’s climate. Local and tourist reaction to the spectacular displays was overwhelming and thus the event was made a permanent annual fixture, running from mid -September to mid-October. Much more than a flower show, the event has become an iconic Australian festival celebrating music, culture, art and entertainment – all against the vibrant backdrop of over a million colourful plants and shrubs, constantly changing as they come in and out of bloom over time. Special activities are planned for different age groups which makes the festival an attraction for families looking for Spring break fun.

The word “Floriade” comes from the Latin “floriat” which means “to design with flowers.” Planning and execution of the beds which spread over four hectares begins 18 months prior to the commencement of the festival. Design is undertaken by a consortium of three Canberra companies who combine their specialist skills to create ingenious displays to enchant and inspire the visitor, each year based on a unique theme.  In 2013 the theme is Style & Design. Planting commences seven weeks before the festival opens, with the experts meticulously focussed on ensuring the varieties they plant and the methods they use to plant and nurture them will ensure that all of them bloom at the same time during those September and October festival weeks.

New and exotic bulbs are constantly introduced in an effort to up the visual excitement stakes. Tulips, daffodils, violas, English daisies, chrysanthemums, hyacinths and irises are among those types included each year, but the design team is always on the look- out for more in a bid to create a feast of colour, scent and texture.

As well as the kaleidoscope of colour, it’s the non-stop entertainment which pulls the crowds to Canberra in the festival weeks and makes the city come alive. Entertainers and musicians from roving buskers to headline acts keep the event humming. For children, there is The Farmyard, full of baby animals eager for a pat and stroke and The National Zoo and Aquarium’s Riveting Reptile’s Exhibition.   A 35 metre Ferris wheel provides a spectacular look-out on the whole display.

After dark for five consecutive nights in what many see as the festival highlight, Floriade’s Nightfest puts on a spectacular lightshow. The garden beds, ponds and trees are thrown into dramatic and magical illumination, designed and created by creative lighting designers Mandylights. The enchanting nightscape provides a background to night markets and a whole array of first class entertainment. 2012’s line-up included Jeremy Joshua, Ashley Feraude, Leigh Wood, Alex Carder and Rafa Chango – with music ranging from House to Dance to Chill Out to Latino to Reggae. Comedy acts included the irreverent Sammy J Randy. The Cirquaholics  – an ensemble of circus artists who mix circus magic with light-technology to provide a magical night circus of juggling, acrobatics and more.

With plenty more to do in the nation’s capital – including art galleries, museums, the Botanic gardens, Parliament House, or perhaps a relaxing treatment at Earth Day Spa located at Crowne Plaza Canberra hotel – the Floriade festival provides a spectacular centrepiece. With an abundance of nearby accommodation, shops and restaurants the Floriade Festival makes it an excellent focus for a family holiday with a special twist.

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