Floriade 2014 – free, fun & a great family day out!

Floriade from the big Ferris wheel!

 Canberra Floriade 2014 is now open and as beautiful as ever – and on a bright sunny day, who can resist its allure? Not us! I grabbed the kids, and we went a-Floriade-reviewing….

Floriade is on again, and if ever you needed an excuse to make the drive down from Sydney to Canberra, Floriade is it, with flowers, culture, art – and always the unexpected!

The first box-tick for the Floriade flower festival has to be the free entry – surely a bit of a rarity these days, with charges just for standing still and breathing at most family events around Australia!

The lovely ladies at the entrance gate offer in-case-you-get-lost wrist bands for small children, and even set you up with a colourful map and Floriade hunt guide for the kids to follow and find the missing words to enter them into a draw – a nice little family activity right off the bat, and all free-as-a-bird.

Hard for the kids - and adults - to resist - Floriade Carnival corner!

Hard for the kids – and adults – to resist – Floriade Carnival corner!

Famous for its beautiful flower displays, Floriade is certainly worthy of a full day’s visit in the National Capital. It’s September right now as we visit, and the gorgeous tulips are just starting to emerge to reveal a myriad complex and colourful flower-bed patterns that all make perfect sense once you are airborne on the big Ferris wheel!

A spectacular world globe flower bed and the usual patchwork quilt of designs in the central promenade area had me scratching my head – just how the DO they manage to do that with unwieldy soil, seeds and bulbs, when I can’t possibly produce the same thing with a paintbrush and canvas?!

The Floriade designers and gardeners are very clever folk indeed, and never fail to produce an impressive display that confounds and amazes – and provides acres of beautiful photo opportunities – happy-snap of kids in front of flowers? Done and done!

We decided to visit Floriade on a (non-school-holiday) week day to escape the weekend crowds, a plan which worked beautifully! No queues, room to move and see everything, no wait for café tables or toilets – this is the way to do Floriade if you have that luxury.

Floriade - no crowds outside of weekends and holidays

Even in the centre of Floriade, there are no crowds if you can avoid weekends and holidays

Whilst so much is free at Floriade, there are some costs to factor into your visit. For example, good luck if you can escape the carnival rides with the kids along! You can take a ride on the Ferris wheel to really appreciate the amazing flower designs from above, not to mention the expansive Canberra city and Lake Burley Griffin vistas from the top (around $25 for three to ride). The big slide, jumping castle and tea cup rides are all there ($5 per ride), plus the carnival clowns, of course!

The Carnival clowns never go out of style at Floriade!

The Carnival clowns never go out of style at Floriade!

Floriade is all about the flowers, but food-art certainly does get a look-in too, with a wide range of eatery options. There are several vendors dotted about the grounds, or simply stick to Floriade tradition, and pack a picnic! Settle down on your picnic rug with the family and listen to the bands play on Stage 88 – the epitome of a relaxed afternoon in the sun!

If you do want to push the Floriade culinary boat-out, why not treat the family to a sit-down gourmet lunch in a pavilion amongst the tulips and daffodils! You can laze on an outdoor balcony and lap up the gentle spring sunlight whilst sipping your café latte and watching the flower-appreciating world drift by – ahhh!

As you wander about through the flower displays of Floriade, part of the fun is happening upon the interesting and unexpected art pieces and sculptures – just a few of the offerings this year include a boulevard of huge inflatable blooms, a car completely planted out with flowers and a couple of gigantic plastic snails. There’s even a small town of gnomes in temporary residence by the lakeside – the result of the popular annual gnome painting competition for the kids!

There are wandering entertainers too, such as these two amazing stilt walkers who could not only engage the children’s attention with bubble blowing, but also marshal the children towards them when some service vehicles needed to pass by – and all on stilts!

Floriade stilt-walkers blowing bubbles for the children

Surprise! Floriade stilt-walkers blowing bubbles for the children

But the children agreed that their most-favourite Floriade activity was the marvellous (and again, free!) Matilda’s Farmyard Nursery from Wollongong, located in the Floriade kid’s corner. With no crowds and no waiting on the day we were there, we could spend an unrushed half hour or so petting an alpaca, ducklings, piglets, rabbits, sheep, a very cute calf and a pony with a pink-dyed mane and tail! Absolutely lovely for the kids, and very relaxed – we were left to wander about petting to our hearts content, with friendly, encouraging keepers and beautifully quiet and patient animals – well done, Matilda’s! Kid’s corner is also the place you can grab a snack, and get the kids faces painted!

Matilda's Farmyard Nursery inhabitants - baby rabbits!

Matilda’s Farmyard Nursery inhabitants – very cute baby rabbits!

For Floriade souvenirs to take home with you, there is a myriad of stalls up near the main entrance with all sorts of crafty/gardeny offerings, including the official Floriade shop with lots of flowery-design goodies.

So if you’re looking for a lovely family activity only around three hours drive from Sydney, why not plan a day out or weekend away and visit the beautiful spectacle of Canberra’s Floriade? It’s well worth it!

Let's go Mum family shot!

We had a great family day out at Canberra’s Floriade!

The nuts and bolts…

Floriade is open from 13 September – 12 October 2014
Admission is free
Located in Commonwealth Park, Canberra (just past the Civic city centre and directly before you cross Lake Burley Griffin)
You can visit the official website for more info here: www.floriadeaustralia.com




2 Responses so far.

  1. Tracy says:

    Sorry I cant check emails but wondering did you drive down for just a day? Stay over night? Bus tour?

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About LetsGoMum

Hi, I'm Barbara, mum of the Let's Go Mum blog. We'd love to hear from you! You can contact me anytime with ideas on where you think we should go or what you think we should try...just drop me a line at barbara@letsgomum.com.au!