It’s going to take a few months to evaluate but it seems the Floriade: Reimagined event across the city has been a winner with Canberrans, and could return next year even if there is a full-scale floral festival in Commonwealth Park.
The dispersed event created to replace the usual Floriade due to COVID-19 restrictions captured the imagination of the community, with the initial 40 sites growing to 130 across the city with the participation of 90 community groups.
Their beds, barrows and baskets created a trail of colour through the suburbs, accompanied by a number of physical and virtual events for the month-long program.
Events ACT boss Ross Triffit said Floriade: Reimagined had prompted a lot of positive anecdotal feedback from the community.
”It seems to have been very well received by the wider community. We were particularly pleased with the level of engagement from community groups to actually participate on the horticultural program,” he said.
”The fact that we could extend our 40 sites to 130 by adding the 90 groups has been significant in contributing to what we hope will be determined as a very successful event.”
Chief Minister Andrew Barr has said that if the event was received well, it was likely to return next year.
Mr Triffit said that would be a matter for the incoming government, as would decisions about a full-scale Floriade in 2021.
He said the loss of Floriade this year had cost the ACT dearly after last year’s record 507,000 attendees injected almost $45 million in the ACT economy.
By sharing the event across the suburbs and various venues, it is hoped that businesses were able to glean some benefits.
”It appears that across the city people have been engaging with the horticultural program and hopefully that with the distribution across the city that’s also brought benefits to local traders in those areas where we haven’t been able to bring the tourism dollar in. At least we’re encouraging some investment across the city when people are out and about.”
Mr Triffit said the amount of content on social media showed that people were moving around the various sites taking photos, particularly with the recent fine weekends.
He said some of the physical events, such as those at Cockington Green and Lanyon, ticketed events, and smaller activations sold out, as well as the Let’s Talk series.
The decentralised approach to the one-off Nightfest event, which focused on local eateries, might be something for Floriade to build on, depending on the feedback from participants.
Most of the flowers, plants and bulbs themselves are bound for the community, apart from those in selected beds that will remain.
Bulbs planted in community gardens will go to to the community groups, while the gardening team will cut and deliver flowers from Plantaboxes and potted displays to local hospitals and nursing homes.
Plantings by the horticulture team will remain in place at Woden Town Park, Casey Roundabout, Kippax Library and Kingston. The City Hill bed will stay until the next planned planting.
As the loss of major ACT events continues, Mr Triffit hoped there was a way to keep events viable, even if in different formats while significant restrictions are in place.
But he echoed what all are praying for.
”The sooner we can get back to large physical gatherings, the better for everyone,” he said.