93.9 BayFM Geelong
Toowoomba's Carnival of Flowers conjures vivid images of spectacular floral gardens and parks bursting with colour and beautiful blooms.
It is a visual treat that has delighted hundreds of thousands of visitors over the past 61 years.
Article Continues Below
In recent years the floral festival has expanded its focus to become a playground where residents and visitors indulge all their senses.
This year's theme, Cultivating Experiences, offers an insight into the varied attractions waiting to be enjoyed.
Australia's longest running horticultural festival gleefully embraces the positive energy and spirit of a spring carnival.
Any good description of a carnival encompasses organised merrymaking often accompanied by a festive procession or a fair.
If that doesn't sound familiar, it's high time you joined some of the dozens of activities and displays on show across Toowoomba from Friday, September 16 to Sunday, September 25.
Toowoomba Regional Council Tourism, Events and Parks portfolio leader Cr Joe Ramia said this year's Carnival would best reflect how the founding floral theme was complemented by entertainment and events to suit all ages.
"It's an exciting time for Carnival as the Advisory Committee and organisers continually tweak our very successful formula," Cr Ramia said.
"Spring is a time of renewal and every gardener knows the power and importance of regeneration to produce a prize-winning garden.
"Carnival organisers have taken cues from our innovative gardeners and transformed the celebrations into 10 days and nights of appealing activities.
"Cultivating Experiences is a theme which encourages people to get out and about to join events across the city this September."
Cr Ramia said organisers were mindful of scheduling activities for all age groups and had found a mix of attractions to cultivate interest in the younger set or Gen Y age group.
"The Queens Park entertainment this year in particular is directed at the Gen Y audience and I'm sure they will find plenty to enjoy," he said.
"Our young people are greatly involved through the Young Ambassador Program which is raising funds for RACQ CareFlight.
"As well as having fun during Carnival, there has been a marked increase in the number of younger people who have helped prepare for Carnival and who will volunteer their time at Carnival events.
"This is a welcome boost for Carnival organisers and gives our young people a chance to be a part of the region's premier tourist drawcard. It is a most encouraging sign for the future development of Carnival and other events."
Cr Ramia said The Chronicle Garden Competition and Exhibition Gardens were a central attraction for weekend gardeners as well as interstate and overseas visitors.
"The founding vision of Essex Tait and the Chamber of Commerce in 1949 was to promote the Garden City image as a way to encourage post World War II activity in the city," he said.
"That initial idea continues to serve as the template for celebrations. People of all ages continue to flock to the floral parade, but Carnival now extends across many other parts of the city over 10 days and nights."
Carnival's opening weekend focus (September 16-18) centres on Queens Park for the Ergon Energy Flower Food and Wine Festival, Heritage Building Society Live Concert Series and the thrills of Sideshow Alley.
The Flower Food and Wine Festival opens at 10am daily and closes at 11pm on the first two nights. (10pm on Sunday, September 18)
Choose a light snack or meal from a wide range of city restaurants and cafes. More than 20 wineries will offer tastings or enjoy a drop with lunch or dinner.
Patrons this year will be able to taste a selection of the region's finest gourmet food and wine in a tent designed for 50 people at a time. Chefs from city restaurants Images (Friday), Downs Club (Saturday) and Olive Branch (Sunday) will match food and wine in bite-size samples from 11am to 4pm daily.
Explore new tastes with game from Crows Nest and wines from around the region. Menu cards will show what the chefs are whipping up each day.
The Laurel Lounge returns with cooking demonstrations by Jamie's Ministry of Food, Ipswich, revealing healthy cooking and eating tips. A surprise chef will produce mouth-watering fare and Toowoomba's TAFE chefs will compete in a Musical Master Chef challenge.
Internationally renowned floral designer Per Benjamin will unveil a feature display in the new Gallery Space which features Toowoomba Art Society's show and the floral design competition. Ready, Steady, Snip! returns to test designers' flair.
Music lovers will be treated to six headline acts at the Heritage Building Society Live Concert Series. Singer/songwriter Clare Bowditch and 1970s inspired retro rock and roll sister act Stonefield light up the stage on Friday night. Saturday's line-up includes Telstra's talent discovery slot Road to Discovery rounded out by rising pop-folk outfit Busby Marou. The night will crank up a gear when former Noiseworks and INXS frontman Jon Stevens belts out an energeti set.
On Sunday, Daryl Braithwaite, formerly of 1970s supergroup Sherbert, will draw on hits from his extensive solo career before the finale takes a trip down the majestic back catalogue of the Fab Four with a performance by Beatles tribute act, The Beatnix.
Sideshow Alley also features musical performances by Hayley Warner, Joel Turner and Wes Carr over its three nights. Keep an eye out for fireworks from 8.15pm (September 16) and 7.15pm on Sunday, September 18.
During the week patrons can sit back on an organised garden tour, enjoy parkland entertainment or Pictures in the Park at Laurel Bank Park from September 22 to 24. Pack a picnic or buy refreshments at the venue. Settle back to enjoy Secretariat PG (September 22), Toy Story 3 G (September 23) and Tangled PG (September 24), which screen from 6.30pm. The Sunday show is followed by fireworks.
Children are the guests of honour at the Biggest Little Lunch from 10am to 1pm in Laurel Bank Park on Saturday, September 24. Little lunches will be free for the first 300 children with face painting, balloon art, dance workshops and an animal farm providing loads of fun and games.
USQ StreetFest promises to get toes tapping from 10am to 4pm on Sunday, September 25. Margaret Street between Neil and Ruthven streets transforms to a mini Motown with dance workshops and performances by era tribute acts, the Buddy Holly show, Supreme Dreams and Elvis.
In between these activities, don't forget to pop in to the numerous community flower, art and craft exhibitions across the city. See the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers program for details or contact the Toowoomba Visitor Information Centre at 86 James Street or phone 1800 33 11 55.
Other information is available from the Carnival website: www.tcof.com.au