Floriade cancelled: million bulbs to be planted across Canberra

Ian Bushnell 1 April 2020 27
Floriade 2019

Floriade 2019 was a record-breaking event. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The coronavirus public health emergency has forced the ACT Government to call off Canberra’s premier tourism event, Floriade, despite it being more than six months away.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the government could not guarantee the health and safety of all those involved and it was not logistically possible to proceed.

“After careful consideration, the ACT Government has decided not to proceed with Floriade and Floriade NightFest in Commonwealth Park this year,” he said.

“Given the significant planning and coordination required for Floriade, the ACT Government is not assured that the event can be set up and staged in a manner that guarantees compliance with current physical distancing requirements.

“Our concern is for the health and safety of our staff, visitors and volunteers.”

Preparations have been underway since last year and more than a million bulbs have already been procured for this year’s event.

Mr Barr said the government was now looking at planting them around the city for suburban displays come spring.

”They won’t be all concentrated in Commonwealth Park and we will take the opportunity with our Floriade team to keep them active and working to look at options to plant the bulbs around the city to improve our established garden beds and really make the city look fantastic at springtime,” he said.

”But we could not stage an event where you would be seeking to attract tens of thousands of people into one fairly compact location, even if outside.”

Mr Barr said the government was also investigating what aspects of Floriade could be delivered online.

”We are looking at what the other options are for elements of the Floriade experience to be delivered online, to provide some support for artists and creatives who would have otherwise undertaken activities during Floriade,” he said.

Experts are unclear how long the virus will take to work its way through the population or how long physical distancing must be maintained to slow its spread, but it is plain that with an event of Floriade’s size a decision on its fate needed to be made sooner rather than later.

It is another blow to Canberra’s event calendar, already reeling from the loss of major events such as the National Folk Festival and the Canberra International Music Festival.

Floriade is always a morale booster after Canberra’s winter chill and would have been especially welcome this year.

It also a major sugar hit for the ACT economy.

The annual spring floral festival has never been cancelled in its 32-year history, evolving from a community affair to become a major tourism driver and earner for the Territory.

The government says Floriade 2018 had an economic impact of $38.6 million, with 48.1 per cent of visitors attending the event from interstate or overseas.

Last year the festival and NightFest contributed to record numbers of tourists visiting Canberra, pulling 507,550 people through the gates across the month, smashing its previous 2014 record of 481,854 people and exceeding the 2018 gate by more 27,000.

In recent years, it engaged regional producers, showcasing some of the best products from the Canberra region, with Pialligo Estate, Capital Brewing Co., Contentious Character and Underground Spirits joining a range of local food vendors and market stalls.

Floriade was due to be staged from 12 September to 11 October 2020.

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27 Responses to Floriade cancelled: million bulbs to be planted across Canberra
Jess Tan Jess Tan 9:48 am 02 Apr 20

Lisa Hodge now they take floriade.

Niral Patel Niral Patel 7:19 am 02 Apr 20

Joseph Amerio Nicholas Tither

Another setback to hotels...

Richie Richie 10:25 pm 01 Apr 20

A silver lining for sure. I’m excited about the possibility that the million-odd bulbs will be planted in smaller gardens around the city!

Emily Lander-Clarke Emily Lander-Clarke 8:55 pm 01 Apr 20

Yes, 6 months might be pretty conservative time wise. To a large extent it’s up to us, in the sense of staying in as to the length of time;or maybe not, nobody really knows.

Julien Lefebvre Julien Lefebvre 6:51 pm 01 Apr 20

Patrick McCann must be gutted mate!!!!

Deborah Mesman Deborah Mesman 6:36 pm 01 Apr 20

Maybe just maybe we might find ourselves in a position to enjoy spring


Acton Acton 12:20 pm 01 Apr 20

April Fools Day prank. Right?
If not, share the pain Andrew Barr, instead of spreading it
Cancel the next rates notice for all long suffering Canberra residents and businesses.

Amy Dyde Amy Dyde 10:56 am 01 Apr 20

Cate Dyde no Floriade this year.

Amanda Evans Amanda Evans 10:47 am 01 Apr 20

The only upside to this is that Commonwealth Park will get a well earned rest.

Kristy Jirgens Kristy Jirgens 10:10 am 01 Apr 20

I assume Tulip Top Garden might be next 😥

    Kristy Jirgens Kristy Jirgens 12:40 pm 01 Apr 20

    Linda Norris thanks. Yes I saw that. Fingers crossed

Sher Bee Sher Bee 10:05 am 01 Apr 20

I think it could be spread around Canberra for walkers and drivers to admire. We need something pretty to admire. Imagine blooming roadway center pieces

Louise McLeod Louise McLeod 9:57 am 01 Apr 20

😭 Andrew this makes me really sad...I was only thinking about this yesterday knowing how long in advance they plant

Sharon Lopez Sharon Lopez 9:43 am 01 Apr 20

Thought: deliver bulbs to every household and we can have floriade at home

Janelle Taylor Janelle Taylor 9:38 am 01 Apr 20

Dawn David Vickery No Floriade for 2020😪😪😪

Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 9:35 am 01 Apr 20

The government is expecting/planning this to last at least 6 months then 😳

    Jemima Turner Jemima Turner 10:04 am 01 Apr 20

    Shane Jasprizza yeah, the PM has already said this on numerous occasions

    Costanza Maffi Costanza Maffi 10:17 am 01 Apr 20

    Shane Jasprizza it's just that they can't guarantee that it won't

    Sarah Roarty Sarah Roarty 10:24 am 01 Apr 20

    And it’s not reasonable to put govt resources to work now on an event that may not take place.

    Janine Campbell Janine Campbell 10:25 am 01 Apr 20

    That has been saod repeatably. Expect this to go on for 6 months, maybe longer depending on when a vaccine can be developed ans deployed.

    Emma Sharman Emma Sharman 10:28 am 01 Apr 20

    Well, make sure you consider how long the landscaping and events people have to be on site prior to Floriade in order to design and plant everything. That's what they know can't happen right now, as well as the potential risk the attendees later.

    Rosie Posy Rosie Posy 6:34 pm 01 Apr 20

    Shane Jasprizza there is also a lot of people power and potential people contact that goes into preparing for it, so even if we are all back to normal in September the prep would be unmanageable in April/may

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