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Canberra’s huge flower festival returns with nighttime illuminations

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Written by
Emma Joyce
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Book your flights to the capital this spring as one of the most Instagram worthy flower festivals returns to the lakeside gardens, Commonwealth Park.

What started in 1988 as a supposedly one-off event to mark Australia’s Bicentenary and Canberra’s 75th anniversary is now an annual pilgrimage for half a million flower lovers. Floriade has now grown to 30 days of floral displays and events, including the popular after-dark viewings called NightFest.

For $35 you get to wander around the gardens, which are illuminated with light artworks, and see stand-up comedy from Arj Barker, Akmal Saleh and Matt Okine, or a Bowie tribute performance by Kate Miller-Heidke and Jeff Duff (depending on the night you book).

This year’s Floriade is adopting a pop culture theme, showing off flower beds inspired by iconic figures in 20th century pop music, movies and social media – including Marilyn Monroe and Ken Done inspired creations alongside floral dedications to the Rubik’s Cube.  

They’re also paying tribute to the nostalgic children’s book Where’s Wally, setting up open-air film screenings and wrapping up the festival with a pet-friendly party, Dogs’ Day Out, where visitors get to dress up their doggos as superheroes.

Floriade runs from Sep 15-Oct 14 and tickets cost $35 for the NightFest program. It’s free to view the flowers from 9.30am-5.30pm.

While you’re there, check out the Heath Ledger exhibition.

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