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Has Floriade jumped the shark?

By Charlotte Harper - 4 October 2016 27

Flower boxes

I’m feeling a little bit sorry for the organisers of Floriade this year.

They’ve had to deal with hideous weather, including some chilly periods (I saw snow on the Brindabellas yesterday) and heavy rain over several days causing them to close the site to the public for two days.

Has Floriade jumped the shark?

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They’re copping criticism for the smaller footprint of the event, which is something they couldn’t do much about given the National Capital Authority’s changed requirements.

Plant boxes arriving

The NCA’s new rules meant they had to move to a model of growing bulbs offsite and trucking them in, which has been an adjustment, albeit an innovative one.

Plant boxes in the lead up

They’re being accused of planting fewer bulbs than in previous years, which the organisers say is not true, though clearly the number of cloudy days we’ve experienced this spring will have impacted on the number of blooms peeking out of the flowerbeds.

Floriade daffodils

There are questions about why there was no Face of Floriade this year, and we’re trying to get an official answer on that.

Then there are complaints about the food. We had lunch in the food court and I agree, there wasn’t a lot to inspire. I found some decent salads in the corner, but the kids ended up with greasy fish and chips. Something like the noodle markets at Enlighten would be a big improvement on the offering.

Children painting Floriade's gnomes

All in all, though, I found just as much to delight in as in previous years. Gorgeous flowers, cute hand-painted-by-children garden gnomes, the megaslide, the Ferris Wheel and a new personal favourite: the talking lamp post.

Gnome art

I reckon the issue here is that for many of us, the concept itself is getting a bit tired. Tourists who are first, second or even third time visitors will probably be dazzled, but on visit number 29, a Canberran can hardly be blamed for feeling as though this is a flower show that’s jumped the shark.

How have you found Floriade this year compared to previous years? Has it jumped the shark? Did you get to Nightfest? How as that? What would you like to see organisers do differently in future years?

What’s Your opinion?

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27 Responses to
Has Floriade jumped the shark?
Genie 12:39 pm 05 Oct 16

Floriade is no longer interesting to attend, each year you have the exact same food vendors and stall holders; the same events/activities for the kids but oh look the flowers are arranged slightly different. Bring back the ramps so we can actually see the design without needing to mortgage the house to ride the ferris wheel.

The whole event needs a complete overhaul, can’t we focus on local talent for our Canberra festival ? Take a leaf of out The Tulip Top Gardens book, they have live entertainment over the weekends. I would complain about paying an (minimal, eg less than $5) entry fee to Floriade if it helped cover the cost of this. Least Tulip Top give you a free sanga or cup of tea to enjoy with the entertainment. Or why not audition for buskers/entertainers to roam the displays ? No cost as they make their money from donations. Heck I remember 15+ years ago I used to perform with my high school band and again with the dance company I was apart of. Do they still do that ?

Rotate the stalls / food to be LOCAL providers. We have plenty of amazing food vendors in our town, just check out The Hamlet, Westside Acton Park or those at the markets each and every weekend. Why serve crappy deep fried and over priced chips ? Last year I encouraged anyone visiting to park at Westside Acton Park and eat there before heading over, food is so much better and shockingly cheaper than a bucket of chips.

Rollersk8r 11:47 am 05 Oct 16

“Jumping the shark” suggests some kind of desperate and spectacular failure, which I don’t believe is the case. Personally I’d never recommend Floriade as worthy of a trip to Canberra – but I always pop in for a quick look myself. It’s just some flowers, with tacked on entertainment for kids and a few stalls – but people seem to still enjoy it in large numbers…

ricojuanios 9:31 am 05 Oct 16

I think the night show around two years ago was much better than what was on this year. There were these beautiful big flower sculpture things that moved according to the music. The light was also synchronized accordingly.
There was something similar this year too, however, it was not as great. I feel a bit sorry for the organizers of Floriade. All their hardwork spoilt because of the bad weather.

Cantabile 7:27 pm 04 Oct 16

We go every year as a young family, it’s not a bad morning out if you get there early enough and bring your own food! The free attractions and events for little kids are fantastic, and definitely what keeps us coming back.
Once the kids are older however I can’t see us going unless it seriously has a revamp.
There are some great suggestions here like getting local businesses involved and arranging different caterers.

creative_canberran 6:54 pm 04 Oct 16

When Floriade started, it was because people passionate about the flowers had an idea. It opened night and day, both for free. And each year they tried to make it better.

That was long ago.

They axed the night openings, then tried to make it a fully paid event by day. The NCA are close minded about it, and it’s now run by unimaginative event bureaucrats in CMD who are trying to squeeze a tired event for all its worth instead of injecting new ideas. By day it has been shrinking and becoming unimaginative for year, but at least its free. By night it was interesting, but particularly this year not worth the price.

Worse still organisers seem in denial about the problems. They’ve now done severe damage to the brand of both Floriade and Canberra. It’s a sad way for what was once an innovative and very well developed attraction to go.

There are other Tulip displays in this region and Australia that do a better job.

dungfungus 5:56 pm 04 Oct 16

nealg said :

If you want to see a real flower display take a walk through the National Botanic Gardens on Black Mountain.
A pity more Australians do not embrace the amazing native flora we have around us rather than yearning for some fake European version.

I go there regularly especially when the orchid hot house is open but if they started bussing in the tourists like they do at Floriade I wouldn’t be tempted to go back, ever.

HiddenDragon 5:13 pm 04 Oct 16

On the other hand, the TV adverts have been classy, but without pretension, which is no mean feat.

dungfungus 4:59 pm 04 Oct 16

Sounds like a job for “Super Brendan” to sort out.

madelini 4:59 pm 04 Oct 16

I still really like it, even if it is just a variation on a theme each year. Flowers are such a simple way to inject a bit of colour and joy into everyday life. This might not be the *best Floriade ever*, but I still enjoyed it when I visited and I have every intention of going back to see what has now come out in bloom.

nealg 4:31 pm 04 Oct 16

If you want to see a real flower display take a walk through the National Botanic Gardens on Black Mountain.
A pity more Australians do not embrace the amazing native flora we have around us rather than yearning for some fake European version.

artuoui 1:08 pm 04 Oct 16

It is very samey year in year out. It would be good if there was an attempt at extending the festival more across the city by encouraging engagement and participation in civic, the group centers and suburban shops. At the moment all the activity is fenced in to that one area of the park.

dungfungus 12:54 pm 04 Oct 16

It used to have more colours than Al Grazzby’s tie rack but now the shipping container dump across Commonwealth Avenue to the west has more visual appeal.

Masquara 12:34 pm 04 Oct 16

The reason there’s no Face of Floriade could be that one of the Floriade Ambassadors a few years ago was heard laughing when Canberra was bagged out on radio a few months later. As soon as her contract was over.

John Moulis 12:30 pm 04 Oct 16

It’s boring. Just the same thing year after year. A few years ago they had the one with movie themed displays and that was entertaining, but since then there has been a dearth of ideas and a feeling that they are now merely going through the motions. The revelation that bulbs have had to grown offsite and trucked in reminds me of the first Floriade in 1988 where each plant was grown in a flower pot in greenhouses and assembled in the beds prior to the opening day.

The sad thing is that there don’t appear to be any worthwhile ideas for an alternative spring festival so it looks like we are stuck with it.

Holden Caulfield 11:07 am 04 Oct 16

For me Floriade jumped the shark at least 10 years ago. Maybe more.

I’m just not sure why the event attracts such big crowds? But I’m not really in the target audience, so each to their own I guess.

I’d really like to see a garden design competition, something akin to the Chelsea Flower Show. It seems such an obvious addition to the Floriade schedule to me. I can only think it is red tape that has prevented it from happening.

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