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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?