The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers has been a Spring celebration for the past 65 years. And to my shame, despite living within two hours drive of it for more than 20 years, I’ve never been to see what all the fuss is about. I’ve been to Toowoomba (of course!) but never during this special time of year.
That’s about to change, because after being treated to a preview of all the delights in store this year, I’m planning to head up the range this year while the flowers are in full bloom.
For 10 days in September, Toowoomba will show off its best: beautiful gardens, fine wines, delicious regional produce, fashion, the arts and music. Oh yes, it’s much more than just flowers.
It all takes place from September 19 to 28, with the highlight – the Grand Central Floral Parade – winding its way through Toowoomba’s heart to Queens Park from 3pm on Saturday, September 20. This year’s parade theme is ‘A Storybook of Colour’.
The program features more than 17 events, across 21 venues, starring 130 performers. Among the line-up of entertainers are Australian band Icehouse and singer Deborah Conway. At the launch event in Toowoomba, we were treated to Conway’s powerhouse voice – what a star!
An exciting new event this year is a Gala Dinner on Thursday, September 18, with the best of Southern Queensland Country produce on show in a five-course degustation menu under the stars in the Arbour in Upper Queens Park.
Queens Park will be the hub for the Ergon Energy Flower, Food and Wine Festival (September 19-21), which also features the Heritage Bank Live Concert Series. Free fun and entertainment is on offer over the same three days to the west at Sideshow Alley in Frog’s Hollow, Queens Park.
Queens Park will host belly dancing sessions, Divas in the Park and pilates classes while Laurel Bank Park will hold the popular Twilight Tours (September 22-24) and the free Outdoor Family Movie Night on September 26 and 27, among other highlights.
We got a taste of what’s to come, and on arrival in Toowoomba headed to Laurel Bank Park to have a look at this wonderful garden, with fine nibbles and wine to refresh us after the bus trip from Brisbane. And to our surprise, a performance in the gardens by opera singers from Vivachi Entertainment (another sneak preview).
The festival site will see pop-up fashion parades for the Culture to Couture competition, Handmade in Country stalls and the ring of international food stalls and 20 boutique wineries. Family fireworks shows start from 8.30pm on September 19 and 20 (with a laser light show) and from 7.30pm on Sunday, September 21 in Queens Park.
Last year 117,000 people attended Carnival of Flowers events, more than half of them from outside the Toowoomba region. That’s got to say something!
Check out the full program at tcof.com.au or on www.facebook.com.au/CarnivalFlowers, for details of all organised garden tours, including the hop-on, hop-off bus and the morning and afternoon guided tours, which can be booked online.
A Glass Half Full was a guest of the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.