Floriade Nightfest – a perspective

grundy 26 September 2008 39

Floriade Nightfest: Floriade without the nice sunny day and beautiful tulips to admire!

My wife had somehow managed to convince me to attend the opening night of Floriade Nightfest.
Skipping over the complaining and bribing involved over the last few days, I found myself lining up at the main entrance.

To set the mood for the night, I felt the begginings of a cold setting in. Headache, fever, aching all over… it was quite appropriate in hind-sight.

We were greeted by a Floriade ‘management’ member guiding us into two lines. Left for Pre-Paid tickets, Right for those who wanted to buy tickets on the night.

We looked around for the ‘Left’ line and wandered past a few hundred people towards the gates, soon realising that the mass of people behind us was for the ‘Pre-Paid’ entrance.

The line didn’t move…

It looked like it would take over an hour or more for these hundreds of people to collect their Pre-Paid tickets from the single window at the ticket office. A friend who had lined up at 5:45 had only just entered after a 50 minutes wait.

At this stage, feeling the cold settling in, I reluctantly asked my wife if she would mind if I went back home.

As usual, she took matters in to her own hands and stormed off looking for a Floriade management member.

No idea what she said, since I was saving our spot in the line, but seconds later the staff with loud speakers announced that people with the printed Pre-Paid ticket letter could enter without having to collect their tickets!

Losing my chance for an easy escape, I entered the Nightfest.

(Slideshow below)

I’m not sure what I was expecting, fire twirling, juggling, acrobats filling the streets?

We passed several deserted stalls and headed towards the outdoor cinema screen to meet up with some friends.
The tulips did look quite spectacular at night with the coloured lighting, but it was difficult to appreciate the entire display in the low-light.

We set out a picnic and mats in front of the screen to watch the TropFest films.

It was very damp, cold and uncomfortable, but I promised I’d sit through it and try to enjoy it.
For someone that has already seen many of the TropFest films though, it was a little repetitive sitting through the event.

Afterwards we had a hot chocolate and dessert at the cafe while we waited for the acrobatic show to begin.

I wouldn’t quite call it ‘acrobatics’ after watching it though.

It was too ‘slow’ and not enough was happening to hold the interest of my friends or myself.

The act also took way too long and we found ourselves several times standing, ready to go, only to find they were still continuing the performance.

The time had passed quickly and it was 10pm by the time we packed up and started back for the cars, all of us agreeing that our next meet-up would be somewhere warmer or inside…

Sorry for the boring story, but I was hoping to convey the ‘experience’ that we had tonight.

There was definitely a lot of potential for it to be a successful event, and I hope the Floriade management learn from the ‘little things’ they did wrong and improve on it over the coming years.

If it was free, I would definitely recommend that everyone has a walk through and take in this unique aspect on Floriade, but at $15 per adult, it is an expensive night out for very little entertainment.

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39 Responses to Floriade Nightfest – a perspective
imagicnation imagicnation 2:34 pm 01 Oct 08


I had an absolutely fabulous night. A family friend won two tickets for the Saturday night (which looked, by far, like the best night of offerings) so we were able to see the Big Band, Strictly Ballroom and Strange Fruit. We were able to get a spot down the very front and coax some people next to us to mind our spot for us whilst we watched the band. We didn’t have to stand in-line as we dropped parked near St. John’s (I think that’s its name) and wandered through.

Can’t comment on the food prices (we picked up three pies @ $2 each and three apple danishes for $1 each), however we assumed it would be overpriced, so brought our own.

Neither of us had see Strictly Ballroom which made for a great film watching experience, we loved the Big Band and the Jumptown dancers that complimented their performance and I absolutely loved Strange Fruit (although I’m a sucker for strange art).

The only negative thing is that the program wasn’t that descriptive of what was on offer. Otherwise, I can’t wait to see where the event goes in the future.

PsydFX PsydFX 4:18 pm 30 Sep 08

Following on from that:
Mothers are more concerned about their children disrupting people then they are about distrupting people themselves; we had a lady very politely ask her child to be careful as he was walking right into us, then that same lady proceeded to somehow walk all over my Girlfriends jacket which was neatly placed in between us.

NoAddedMSG NoAddedMSG 4:10 pm 30 Sep 08

We were sitting up near the back for the movies, and there was a bit of a gap (just a small one) between us and the people in front, because they were sitting at a table. I spent my night being entertained by the stream of people coming in, seeing a gap, sitting down, realising they couldn’t see, then standing up and hovering, thereby blocking the view of everyone behind them. This was amusing because they were all so very very careful not to look around, because then they would be forced to acknowledge that they were blocking the view for others. Eventually someone would call out to them, and they would move. From this little study I can conclude: teenagers are more concerned about disrupting others than middle aged men, who often acted quite affronted that their right to charge in and stand there blocking the view of everyone behind them was being challenged.

PsydFX PsydFX 3:38 pm 30 Sep 08

I quite enjoyed the Nightfest, and think they did OK for a maiden event, but do hope they refine it if they do it again next year.

Things I would like to see next year:

-Additional lighting so you can see where you are walking – not a bright light but maybe a low level greenish blue light to blend in with the surroundings.

-The garden gnomes lit up, and maybe a smoke machine there as well – just because it would be spooky and cool.

-Maybe have the flower bed lights mounted high shining down, or atleast strategically placed as to prevent the light from blinding you as you walk past – I still have a 6×8 row of dots burned into my eyes.

-That little round lake part inluded somehow – maybe put floating Japanese Lanterns in there, but instead of flame, use something like solar powered flickering flame LED’s.

-And finally, unless there was supposed to be some wanky symbolic link between war and capitalism, how about not putting a shop in the middle of the Army’s Rising Sun.

ilmarinen ilmarinen 2:07 pm 27 Sep 08

Agree with toriness. The performance art was awesome; just wish not so many twits felt the need to get up and leave before it had finished! Kinda rude to the artists and to those still watching.

toriness toriness 8:48 am 27 Sep 08

my partner and i went to nightfest last night, we just bought our tickets at the gate on the night but when we left hours later we noted that last night ended up selling out, as well as tonight and sunday night.

i thought it was bloody great – i don’t get what you are all complaining about!! we sat down for about an hour and watched a series of short animations which the massive crowd of children and adults alike clearly enjoyed, followed by the performance art which i thought was pretty impressive too. we took our own beers and food so i can’t comment on food or drink prices. i enjoyed wandering around the stalls, chatting to stall owners who had come from victoria (soaps) and queensland (tea). yes this is a commercial element to floriade but judging by the number of people in the night markets, it’s a positive and popular part of the event. lastly the flowers of course which i thought were well lit in some places, others not – the lighting of trees and the water were great features as well i thought.

i thought it was worth the entry fee and we will definitely be going again next year if it’s on.

Gerry-Built Gerry-Built 9:35 pm 26 Sep 08

@ grundy:
nice choice of camera – and nice shots too BTW 😉

Gerry-Built Gerry-Built 9:14 pm 26 Sep 08

When it was open (free) at night – too many people were either:
a) vandalising displays by riding through them
b) having sex in the beds, flower beds…

a + b did not mix too well… ;-P

toriness toriness 3:36 pm 26 Sep 08

i’m looking forward to checking out nightfest for myself tonight. i think it’s a great idea and even if it’s not ammmmmmmazzzzing this year (as a lot of negative comments here suggest) then it will improve over years to come and i for one am happy to support local events.

qwerky qwerky 1:22 pm 26 Sep 08

Overheard said :

miz said :

I found it dark and dull, even with free tickets. Couldn’t see anything properly.
My advice, if you can’t stay home or do something more interesting, is ‘take a torch’.

I will now have to go by day, to see the flowers properly.

And the coda to my marketing spiel above is this: I wouldn’t go for the flowers. I’d go for lots of other things — gnomes, even — but not the flowers.

Oh come on petal, admit it, you KNOW you’d go for the flowers..))

harvyk1 harvyk1 10:11 am 26 Sep 08

BTW, I’m not anti short films, a couple could easily be shown prior to the main feature, plus if nightfest ran the entire time of Floriade then overall more short films by the up and coming would have been shown over the length of the festival.

harvyk1 harvyk1 10:10 am 26 Sep 08

I went last night, the short films they where showing where all good, I loved the ironing board film. But none of them can be called “film which shaped our nation”. There are so many Aussie films out there which can be counted as films which shaped our nation, or at least our film industry, and many of these received international distribution.

For example

Crocodile Dundee
Dirty Deeds
The Castle
Mad Max
Ned Kelly (maybe not the mick jagger version. But you’ve got the Heath Ledger version which isn’t to bad, plus the very original (The Story of the Kelly Gang) was the first feature film to be created in the world (1906), it predates anything the US has done (check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ned_Kelly#Films_and_television))
The Wog Boy
Two Hands

Don’t get me wrong I think Strictly Ballroom (the one actual movie they are playing) is a good example of an aussie film, but it ain’t the only example. Given the popularity of the event I think they are missing an opportunity to run good aussie films throughout the entire of the festival. Given that they are charging $15 per ticket, price wise it’s around the same price as any other cinema in Canberra, surely they’d be able to get permission to screen a few more big aussie movies.

Overheard Overheard 9:13 am 26 Sep 08

Is that right, Jenny? I was trying to remember if that was the case or not. Not that it’s ever been really on my radar, but since the interest in music, it is.

To whit, go see my choir (1) Canberra Union Voices singing there on 3 October. (They’ll be sans me as I’m running or MC-ing or kidleting elsewhere.)

And Jenny, if that’s your real name and if you used to work at a large organisation that’s related to Granny’s post above, I know you! (Mind you, there may be a couple of Jenny Greens around.) Or is that a political statement? In which case, watch this space soon — actually, I’d better make it very soon, about a little gathering I’m MC-ing on behalf of the GetUp! organisation on Sunday 12 October.

On, bringing it all back home, the last day of Floriade 2008.

Granny Granny 8:21 am 26 Sep 08

Next they’ll be bringing in the statistics!


jenny green jenny green 7:28 am 26 Sep 08

tickboom said :

Floriade used to be open at night, back in the day when there was no need for a gate and a fence. I presume they stopped that because people were stealing the flowers? It was nice though. Maybe the trick is just to have it open at night, but forget any idea of making it a ‘fest’ and charging for entry.

Indeed it was. But I heard an ACT Gov marketing bloke on the radio last week telling us us that this is the first time it’s ever been open at night. Lies.

Overheard Overheard 1:35 am 26 Sep 08

Sigh! It happened again. Mid-strength post disappears in a puff of: Error connecting to database.

Dot points:

* First Floriade: present from Nederland Government to Australia — at the time, I was on the cusp of getting fianced to a first generation daughter of Dutch nationals;
* Great experience, wandering around with her plus my folks — eek, meet the parents!
* All about the peripheral stuff and the flowers were the back-drop, and that’s become stronger as more and more peripheral stuff is added, especially musical elements;
* Though, longer we were together, she’d go with mum and family while I’d avoid — now we’re apart I go with kids or partner of the time;
* Something about photos and how I don’t take photos without homosapiens these days (or very rarely do).

That’ll do.

Granny Granny 12:49 am 26 Sep 08

I know. It was lovely.

ant ant 11:01 pm 25 Sep 08

The first year Floriade was on, I wandered down there from work one evening (we’d worked late). In those days, there were no fences and stuff, it was a local council flower display. so anyway, it was dark, and I went over one of those arched footbridges and went for a bit of a look before heading home.

It was deserted, there was just the odd light, there was music coming through the speakers embedded in the beds, and you could smell the perfume of the flowers. It was quiet, it was warm, and it was quite brilliant.

I didn’t see floriade by daylight until the following year.

Why can’t they just open it for people to wander through in a simple way during the night?

grundy grundy 7:22 pm 25 Sep 08

vg said :

Not a boring story, you just sound like a boring person. I have spoken to half a dozen people today who went to Nightfest. Each and every one of them loved it.

But they aren’t miserable people like you. You whinge about spending $15. Jesus H Christ, that’s 3 beers in a pub, but you sound like you’ve never been in one of those either

Hehe, spot-on vg, I’m not a drinker either! 😉
Like I said, I also had a cold coming on, so I wasn’t feeling great to start with.
A few degrees warmer and feeling a bit better, I think I might have really enjoyed it!

vg vg 6:26 pm 25 Sep 08

Not a boring story, you just sound like a boring person. I have spoken to half a dozen people today who went to Nightfest. Each and every one of them loved it.

But they aren’t miserable people like you. You whinge about spending $15. Jesus H Christ, that’s 3 beers in a pub, but you sound like you’ve never been in one of those either

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