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Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers unveils stunning 2014 program

August 5, 2014 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

For 10 glorious spring days in September (19th to 28th), high on the range above Brisbane, a celebration takes place that is unlike any other. Over 65 years the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers has paid homage to some of the most extraordinary gardens in the country, all based in this regional centre.

More recently the Carnival has become a platform for fine wines and foods, for stunning music, fashion and arts talent, rounding out as one of the leading food, arts and floral celebrations anywhere in the world.

Footsteps in AsiaAustralian musical powerhouse Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier raised the roof at the official launch of the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers 2014 program on Thursday night, while local wines and regional produce shone brightly. The promise of thousands of beautiful blooms colouring the city in just seven weeks provided a perfect framework for the unveiling of the landmark event’s 65th year.

While the city’s critically acclaimed gardens and the Grand Central Floral Parade remain at the heart of this world-leading celebration which this year takes place from September 19 to 28, it has morphed over its 65 year history into a festival of food and wine, fashion and the arts, music that crosses all genres, design, masterclasses and more.

The 2014 Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers features more than 17 events, across 21 venues, starring 130  performers, including 5 chefs, headlined by Alive and Cooking’s Chef James Reeson along with ABC TV Gardening Australia’s Gardening Guru Josh Byrne. Musically the program wants for nothing – Australian legends ICEHOUSE and Deborah Conway headline an all-star lineup including 90’s star rock band Something for Kate and Australian breakthrough bands The Kite String Tangle, Saskwatch and San Cisco as well as music and dance sensations Justice Crew among others!! Dorothy the Dinosaur is even making star appearances!

Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio said the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers was Australia’s longest running horticultural event for good reason – because, like a good garden, it continued to evolve and nurture new elements, new areas and new experiences.

“This is one of the most exciting programs we have ever staged,” he said. “It perfectly merges incredible local and national talent both in the garden and on the stage and showcases the wonderful local produce we have on offer in the region. The event once again successfully combines fashion with gardens, music with food; and shines the light on the paddock to plate movement. Most importantly this event has our local community at heart as it did back when it all began 65 years ago.”

Mayor Antonio said one particularly exciting new event this year is the Gala Dinner on Thursday, September 18. “The best Southern Queensland Country produce will be on show in a five-course degustation menu under the stars in the Arbour in Upper Queens Park. Diners will enjoy a preview of the winning entries in the Floral Art Design competition and the launch of the Culture to Couture fashions. This looks set to be a fantastic event.”

Toowoomba Regional Council Tourism and Events portfolio leader Cr Geoff McDonald said residents and visitors would be spoilt for choice during a fabulous Spring festival.

“The floral masterpieces on show in The Chronicle Home Garden competition, the exhibition gardens and the city’s civic parks remain a spectacular drawcard right through Spring – these incredible gardens and parks are the heartbeat of the Carnival, they were the reason this event was given life in 1950, and they remain pivotal,” Cr McDonald said. “Last year Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers had 117,000 people attend our events, 62,851 were from outside our region. During 2012 and 2013 we strategically targeted to extend our tour market with groups travelling from Qld and NSW with a large growth from Mackay and Cairns. The results were amazing with 58,850 people staying 2-3 nights and 12,123 staying 4-5 nights!”  With an economic return of 26.6 million last year this means business for our city, for our hotels and restaurants and much more,” Cr McDonald said.

Since its inception in 1949, the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers has flourished and, is now, a truly Queensland event.  The brainchild of Essex Tait and the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce, Carnival was introduced as a way for the city to use their “Garden City” reputation to promote increased economic activity following the recent hardships of war.

On October 21, 1950 the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers commenced with a street procession that stretched three miles in length. Led by a bullock team and watched by a crowd estimated to be 50,000 strong, the Parade was a resounding success. The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers subsequently became firmly cemented as an annual event in the region’s community calendar. Now in its 65th year, the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers has defied drought and even flood to grow bigger, brighter and more colourful each year. It is the longest-running floral event of its kind in Australia and is rightly famous as the premiere celebration of flowers, food, wine, culture, entertainment and all things spring.

Event Details:

  • Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers – September 19 to 28, 2014
  • Check the evolving program at or on
  • Details of all organised garden tours, including the hop-on, hop-off bus and the morning and afternoon guided tours were available and could be booked online at or by calling Stonestreet’s Coaches on 4687 5555.
  • Ticket details for the Ergon Energy Flower, Food and Wine Festival, including the Heritage Bank Live Concert Series, can be viewed at Tickets will be on sale from Friday, August 1.
  • Patrons this year can upgrade to a platinum ticket package which offers access to a marquee with private bathrooms, seated views of the performance stage and a cash bar. The daily $120 platinum package also includes a complimentary drink and a meal from any of the festival outlets.

2014 Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers – at a glimpse…. 

  • Queens Park is a hub of activity for the Ergon Energy Flower, Food and Wine Festival (from Friday, 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.
  • Patrons at the Ergon Energy Flower, Food and Wine Festival will be tempted by the fine regional fare on display at the Farm to Plate space. Guest chef James Reeson from the television show Alive and Cooking and paleo chef Jen Shaw will present cooking demonstrations over the three days.
  • Master floral designer Wona Bae will create a land art sculpture and host workshops for florists. The fresh flower market, floral design competition and the popular Ready, Steady Snip floral design competition, with a twist involving James Reeson, all return.  ABC TV Gardening Australia presenter Josh Byrne will conduct three different demonstrations each day and answer gardeners’ questions in the Garden Space.
  • Children’s activities include entertainment from Dorothy the Dinosaur and a Kids in the Kitchen workshop, among other sessions.
  • 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.
  • Justice Crew (Australia’s Got Talent winners) are the headline performers in Sideshow Alley from 3.30pm on Sunday, September 21. Magician and comedy hypnotist Mike Tyler will dazzle audiences in three shows on September 20 (2pm, 5pm and 7.30pm) and September 21 (1.30pm and 5pm).
  • The Australian Dance Battle has categories for senior, junior and solo all-styles dancers (see details at ).
  • Family fireworks shows around lower Queens Park start from 8.30pm on September 19 and 20 (with a laser light show) and from 7.30pm on Sunday, September 21.
  • The Grand Central Floral Parade will wind its way through Toowoomba’s heart to Queens Park from 3pm on Saturday, September 20. The theme for the 2014 parade is ‘A Storybook of Colour’.
  • Scores of community floral displays and events run through the week.
  • 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 presented by Youth Connect on September 26 and 27, among other highlights.
  • The free Kids’ Day Out will give Carnival’s youngest patrons the run of Upper Queens Park from 9am to noon on Sunday, September 28.  ABC character Dirt Girl will perform live shows at 9.30am and 11.30am with a meet and greet at 10.30am.

Heritage Bank Live Concert Series program:

Friday, September 19:

6pm      – Jeremy Neale

7.30pm – The Kite String Tangle

9pm       – San Cisco

Saturday, September 20:

5.30pm – Tim Campbell’s High School Disco

7pm       – Killer Queen

8.45pm  – Icehouse

Sunday, September 21:

12.30pm – Deborah Conway & Willy Zygier

4.30pm  –  Something for Kate

6pm       –   Saskwatch

7.30pm  – Bjorn Again

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers ~ the names

The Florals, Flowers & Gardens:

  • Grand Central Floral Parade
  • The Chronicle Garden Competition
  • Ready, Steady, Snip floral arrangement competition: TV show Alive and Cooking’s James Reeson
  • Garden Pavillion demonstrations: ABC Gardening Australia’s Josh Byrne, Cobb & Co – 1) Creating an edible landscape, 2) Secrets to successful organic gardening, 3) Green Home, Green Garden
  • The Chronicle Exhibitions Gardens self-guided tour: Ron & Val Peachey, Sue Hawkins, Marj & Philip Martin, and Edwin & Lesley Dean
  • Ikebana Exhibition: Toowoomba Ikebana Group floral arrangements
  • St Patrick’s Cathedral Floral Festival: Joan Falvey Flowers
  • Brindabella Rhododendron & Rose Festival: Brindabella Country Gardens Australia’s only rhododendron and rose festival
  • Spring Orchid Show: Toowoomba Orchid Society
  • Bromeliad Show
  • Toowoomba Clivia Show: Toowoomba Clivia Society
  • St Luke’s Flower & Music Festival: Toowoomba Floral Art Group
  • St David’s on Display: St David’s Presbyterian Women’s Association
  • Floral displays: Wona Bae
  • Floral Design Competition
  • Hop On, Hop Off Garden Shuttle
  • The Play Space: Kids Gardening classes with Brian Sams
  • The Play Space: talks by My City Garden

The Food & Wine, Regional Produce:

  • Regional produce flavours – think Banyard Birds quail, Tillari Trotters pork belly, Killarney eye fillet, TJ & RM Dunn and Wickham Farms vegetables, Hampton Blue and Wrenco berries, Lerinda  apples, Apthorpe rhubarb, Symara Organic Farm herbs, Hampton Blue jams, Bunnyconnellen Olive Grove & Vineyard products, Mother Meg’s biscuits
  • Alive and Cooking’s James Reeson
  • Paleo Kitchen’s Jen Shaw
  • City Golf Club Executive Chef Ryan McBurney
  • The Play Space: Kids in the Kitchen workshops
  • Leading restaurants The Angel Café, Firefly, Rendezvous Café, City Golf Club
  • Gala Dinner
  • Great Aussie gourmet BBQ
  • Farm to Plate Space demonstrations
  • Talking Pubs Tour
  • Progressive Food and Wine Tour: Preston Peak Winery, DownSteam, Chef Glyn Hughes
  • Preston Peak Winery wine tasting: Granite Belt Strange Birds wine
  • Paddock to Plate Tour: Farming and cooking secrets shared by Farmer Kerry
  • Spring Soiree: Nick Saxon, Castlecomer

The Fashion:

  • Culture to Couture Space: fashion show run by Caroline Taylor-Smith
  • Floral Art Design competition winners, Culture to Couture fashion show

The Music:

  • Jeremy Neale
  • The Kite String Tangle
  • San Cisco
  • Tim Campbell’s High School Disco
  • Deborah Conway & Willy Zygier
  • Something for Kate
  • Saskwatch
  • Bjorn Again
  • Justice Crew
  • Fireworks and laser light show
  • Mike Tyler Magic
  • Australian Dance Battle
  • Big Band at the Bluff: Jim Miller Big Band
  • Divas in the Park
  • Youth Connect outdoor family movie night
  • Empire Theatre: Grace Barbe´, Queensland Ballet’s Cinderella, John Water’s Looking Through a Glass Onion, The Beggards Sing!, Oh What A Night! Tour
  • The Play Space: art activities with Kath Dickson Family Centres and Artsorted Worx, Dorothy the Dinosaur Live Show
  • Kid’s Day Out: ABC’s DirtGirl

The Carnival:

  • Carnival Classic Car Awards
  • Quilt Journeys Exhibition: Robyn Ginn and Kerrie Klan quilts
  • The Beatles Exhibition
  • Cobb & Co. Museum: National Carriage Collection
  • Royal Bull’s Head Inn night ghost tour
  • Diesel Train rides to Spring Bluff: Spring Bluff Gardens
  • Steam Train Tour (Full day): Australian Railway Historical Society, Bris – Toowoomba, Artisan Pizza & Sandwich
  • Spring Bluff Rail Tour
  • Silver Bullet Express Tour (Full day): Lockyer Valley – Spring Bluff – Toowoomba, Artisan Pizza & Sandwich

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