Floriade is an annual month-long celebration of spring in the heart of Australia's capital.
Almost 500,000 visitors flock to Canberra during September and October to take in the sea of flowers alongside Lake Burley Griffin in Commonwealth Park. Featuring more than one million blooms, Floriade has earned the title of the largest flower festival in the Southern Hemisphere, and includes a program of horticulture workshops, music and entertainment.
- Where: Canberra
- When: 14 September to 13 October 2019
- Price: $
How to get there
Canberra is a 55 minute flight or three hour drive from Sydney; from Melbourne, it’s a one hour flight. During the festival, free shuttle buses take visitors to Floriade from the city centre. Three ferry operators also drop passengers nearby. The park is also an easy stroll or bicycle ride from the city centre.
Things to do at Floriade
Learn the tricks of the trade
Each year a specific theme is chosen and represented in the design of the Floriade garden beds, and keen gardeners and DIY hopefuls can get inspiration from a variety of display gardens. From insightful presentations by celebrity guests to expert tips on permaculture and ecological gardening, visitors will leave with plenty of ideas for their own backyards.
Head to NightFest
NightFest is an after-dark extravaganza that unfolds over five nights during Floriade. Garden beds are illuminated with cutting-edge light installations, while night markets, live music, comedians and DJs provide plenty of fun for the whole family. The full program is announced at the beginning of September each year and tickets go on sale from August.
Visit the Gnome Knoll
Perhaps Floriade's quirkiest element is the Gnome Knoll. Visit the knoll to admire thousands of decorated garden gnomes that not only vie for prize of best-painted gnome but help raise money for a range of community projects. To take part in the competition (awarded in age categories), buy and paint a gnome any weekend during the festival. Over the years entries have included a team of dragon boat gnomes and gnomes dressed up to look like Australia's most famous children's band, the Wiggles.
Take part in the activities
Floriade's major focus is flowers, but lots of other activities take place around the stunning floral displays. Meet local producers and wine makers at NightFest Marketplace, catch live performances at The Parlour or take the young (and young at heart) to Kids' Corner for potting up workshops, a petting zoo and obstacle courses. Take part in a one hour yoga session, run by Lululemon Athletica, each Sunday during the festival before the gates open. Or learn the art of arranging flowers at the Floral Society’s series of workshops. Workshops take place at the Floral Emporium, within Floriade, and teach guests ways to experiment and create stylish designs. Workshops are limited and bookings are essential.
See the flowers from a new perspective
Make like royalty and take a boat ride across ornamental Lake Burley Griffin. In 2011 Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip took a stately open-air boat ride from Government House to visit Floriade. Three ferry operators take passengers right to the gates of the event. Or take in the spectacular blooms from 300 metres (984 feet) above ground on a scenic helicopter flight (AUD$75 per person). Flights depart from nearby Lennox Park before soaring above Floriade.
Get in first for the perfect picture
Serious photography enthusiasts can apply for a coveted early morning, crowd-free peek at the flowers. Participants can also opt to take a photography workshop that includes tips and techniques before they start shooting, followed by a critique and debrief, to help improve their work. Applications for these spots close in August.