Photo Bev Lacey / The Chronicle
Photo Bev Lacey / The Chronicle Bev Lacey

The 10-day party that is Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers

TOOWOOMBA, you are invited to eat, laugh, play ... and ask your friends and relatives to stay and enjoy the 10-day party which is the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.

The longest-running floral event of its kind in Australia will feature over 50 unique experiences from September 16-25. That includes internationally acclaimed musical acts, award-winning gardens and a taste of some of the region's best food and wine, along with visiting experts in these fields.

The carnival all began with flowers back in 1950 - with a street procession that stretched three miles and was watched by an estimated crowd of 50,000. The aim was to put the Garden City on the map after the war ... and it did.

But these days the carnival has become almost as famous for its musical offshoot (sorry for the pun). Music legend Tim Finn, of solo and Split Enz fame, will provide the finale at Queens Park on Sunday, September 18 to a day of celebrated Australian musicians which opens with Katie Noonan and The Whitlams.

They will be joined over the opening weekend by Birds of Tokyo, Montaigne, Emma Louise, The Chantoozies, Eurogliders and the Models.

But if your taste lies more in the kitchen, you may want to get in quickly for the opening night Gala Dinner hosted by chef Miguel Maestre, again with Queens Park as your backdrop. Or you can see the smiling Spaniard at various times from Friday to Sunday in the Farm to Plate Space.

Of course the gardens and flowers remain the feature. As well as the wonderful public gardens on show, there will be five exhibition gardens and the private prize-winning gardens. You may want to drive yourself, or leave the car and your cares behind and join one of the hop-on-hop-off garden shuttles from September 16-20.

In a major floral design coup, three of Australia's leading names Charlie Albone, Annita Bokobli and Bart Hassam will attend this year's carnival.

For those who have been living under a rock, Charlie is the Selling Houses Australia gardening guru who last year picked up a silver medal at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show. Western Australian Annita, of Floral Amy fame, is this year's Interflora Australia Cup winner, while Bart is an award-winning floral designer who travels the world to compete and demonstrate floral design.

There really is an almost head-spinning amount to see and do at this year's carnival, so it's lucky that for the first year, there will be 50 official Carnival Greeters. They will work over the 10 days to guide locals, just as much as visitors, through all that's on offer, provide inside knowledge and share their love of the parks and gardens.

If you love talking about the city, there may still be a few greeter positions to fill. You'll receive specialised training and be rewarded with free entry into the carnival festivities. Just call 4688 6661 or go to www.tcof.com.au to find out more about this or any other aspect of the carnival.


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