Visitor numbers at this year’s Floriade were up by more than 45,000 over last year and were just short of setting a new record for the floral festival.
A total of 480,540 people attended the 30-day festival in 2018 which this year had a new format which included more local food offerings, Jazz in the Park on Sunday afternoons and a different theme for every night of NightFest.
The strong attendance numbers for Floriade 2018 were just 1,314 shy of the highest ever event attendance record set in 2014.
Interestingly they were significantly higher than the attendance of 434,414 for last year’s 30th-anniversary event which had a $1.2 million overspend.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that efforts were made to attract more people to Floriade this year through a range of different programming events that targeted new audiences.
“New initiatives in 2018 included a revitalised food and beverage offering with local produce and beverages from Pialligo Estate, Capital Brewing Co, Contentious Character and Underground Spirits,” Mr Barr said.
“Other changes included different themed nights at NightFest, a change in Floriade opening hours (9:30 am to 5:30 pm) and a revitalised market shopping experience with traders spread around a new area, allowing more free flow of people between marquees.
“The event also drew a record October long weekend crowd, with 94,586 people visiting the festival across the three day weekend.”
Floriade 2018 drew 40 per cent of its attendance from the key target markets of regional NSW and Sydney, which Mr Barr said indicates its status as a signature event on Canberra’s tourism calendar.
Preliminary research conducted by the contracted research agency IER Pty Ltd indicated that three-quarters of attendees said this year’s Floriade met or exceeded expectations. Some other insights from the research include:
- Of those coming from outside of Canberra, 68 per cent said they would like to return to see more of Canberra.
- Ninety-two per cent of attendees said Canberra hosting Floriade was important and 76 per cent agreed that using taxpayers’ money for the event was reasonable.
- A high percentage of attendees – 93 per cent – considered Floriade as signifying the start of spring. Almost 90 per cent agreed that it was a well-liked event that was positively embraced by the people of Canberra.
- Eight-seven per cent agree that it helps enhance community spirit, pride and enjoyment.
Floriade is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest floral festival, with the 2018 event running from September 15 to October 14.
This year’s festival took visitors on a trip down memory lane through the theme of Pop Culture, with icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson coming to life in flower form.
For the first time this year, there were different entertainment themes for each of the five nights of NightFest which was run over consecutive nights.
The themes included a movie night, two different music nights, a party night and a comedy night – all dovetailing with the wider pop culture Floriade theme.
Other highlights of the festival included an Abbey Road sculpture which proved popular for selfies and family photos, and a Superhero-themed Dogs’ Day Out which saw a record number of 73 dogs entered in the Best Dressed Dog competition.