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.
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 an easy stroll or bicycle ride from the city centre.
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 four 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 the 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 enjoy a taste of Canberra, sample some local beer brews or cool climate wines and shop your way through an array of local and national market stalls. Not forgetting the littlest members of the family, Floriade offers a range of attraction rides, gnome painting and daily activities for children of all ages. Try your hand at one of Floriade’s many workshops or stroll past the main stage to catch some live music. Programming information is available on the Floriade website.
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. 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.