The planting of bulbs has started at Commonwealth Park for Floriade 2019 which this year will run from September 14 to October 13 and take visitors from the waterways of Japan to the Celtic roots of Ireland as part of a ‘World in Bloom’ theme.
The annual flower festival which last year drew a crowd of 480,540 – 45,000 more than the previous year – will seek to top that this year with a range of new lighting displays, food offerings, activities and entertainment but programming details are still being kept under wraps.
However, favourites such as Dogs’ Day Out have been confirmed as making a return and this year NightFest will run for four consecutive nights to take in the Labour Day long weekend – from Thursday 3 to Sunday 6 October.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said visitors to Commonwealth Park will see the park transform over the next four-and-a-half months, remaining open until mid-August when it closes for final preparations.
He said that Floriade is the hallmark event on the Australian events calendar and it continues to perform strongly.
“Major events in Canberra not only bring vibrancy to the city, they also contribute significantly to the visitor economy and the value of tourism in the ACT,” Mr Barr said.
“Floriade 2018 had an economic impact of $38.6 million, with 48.1 per cent of visitors attending the event from interstate or overseas.
“Significantly, the premier event contributed to record domestic overnight visitor numbers of 2.75 million to the year ending December 2018, according to Tourism Research Australia’s latest data. The ACT is on track to reach its $2.5 billion Tourism 2020 target two years early.”
Events ACT Executive Branch Manager, Jo Verden, said Floriade 2019 will be “a great opportunity for us this year to showcase the wonderful cultures that exist around the world and indeed the many cultures that are here in Canberra”.
“We’ve got over 23 garden beds and over 100 temporary garden beds that will be brought into the park this year to showcase some amazing cultures from around the world,” Ms Verden said.
“We’ve got waterways from Japan, we’ve got Celtic from Ireland and, of course, the beautiful lotus flower to celebrate Buddhism.”
Floriade’s head gardener, Andrew Forster, has held the position for the past 22 years and was among those planting the first bulbs on Thursday (April 2) for the 2019 festival.
“This is the early stages of Floriade. We’ve put drainage in under the garden beds, we’ve put a base of potting mix down, we’ve marked out the design and we’ve put pegs in and we’re about to put the first of the bulbs in,” he said.
Mr Forster said it will take about six weeks to plant all the bulbs and annuals, meaning that should be finished around mid-June.
“Then we’ll water and we’ll fertilise and we’ll maintain. We’ll put the bird netting over the top to keep the birds off and then we’ll be looking towards early September to do all the finishing touches before it opens in mid-September.”