From humble beginnings as a way of attracting tourists and encouraging commerce in a post-war Toowoomba, the city's annual Carnival of Flowers has, over the past 73 years, bloomed into a feast for not just the eyes, but for all senses.
Heralding the first day of Spring (September one) and running right through until the month’s end (September 30) the carnival offers something for everyone, not least of all an incredible display that perfectly demonstrates why Toowoomba is called the ‘Garden City’.
Each year in anticipation of this stunning event, dedicated city employees and volunteers plant over 150,000 seeds, bulbs and seedlings, all timed to perfection to bloom right on cue for the festival.
The result is a blanket of iridescent colour and intoxicating scent that envelopes the whole city – encouraging locals and visitors to themselves bloom and shift into party mode for the month-long event.
Stroll through the city to view the incredible displays in the Botanic Gardens (Queens Park), where 25 hectares of lush greenery and colour-coordinated blooms await, and Laurel Bank Park (Hill Street) where carefully curated flowers spill across manicured gardens in which you can picnic, barbecue, or enjoy a game of croquet.
Additional plantings add a pop of colour right across the CBD, including at Spring Bluff Station and Picnic Point Lookout.
In fact, everywhere you look in Toowoomba during September is a testament to life, fresh new beginnings and the teamwork of locals.
There’s plenty to enjoy aside from the gorgeous blooms, too!
Each year, the city painstakingly curates a variety of itineraries for the food and wine lovers, ensuring that - no matter whether you’re a voracious vegan or a cocktail connoisseur (or perhaps both) - you can enjoy a delicious self-paced gourmand tour of the Toowoomba region.
If you've got an appetite for art, The Toowoomba Art Society, right next to Botanic Gardens, Queens Park, is the perfect place to discover and support emerging and established local artists, with the gallery's Annual Members Exhibition on display throughout September.
Then, when it’s time for a break, take the family to any one of Toowoomba’s parks to soak up the sun and good vibes while you enjoy a picnic or barbecue, or visit the Japanese Gardens, “Ju Raku En” (which roughly translates to ‘to enjoy peace and longevity in a public place’).
The little ones will love the waterfall and mountain stream, and you’ll welcome the tranquillity.
Free Family Fun
Families will love exploring all Toowoomba has to offer during the festival, too, with plenty to please all ages, and a plethora of free events to enjoy.
At sunset on September 25, Drayton & Toowoomba cemetery transforms into an outdoor cinema, with a PG movie screening making it the perfect place to picnic and enjoy family time, while the Carnival of Trains invites visitors into the wonderful world of model trains.
Meanwhile, St Luke’s Flower and Music Festival showcases delightful floral displays and music daily, along with artisan stalls and the incredible craftwork from local makers, while arts and music combine every weekend of the festival with Parkland Entertainment, featuring live acts and artists amongst the blooms of both Laurel Bank Park and Queens Park.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be a festival without Sideshow Alley, an adrenaline-pumping collection of rides, show games, fairy floss, carnival food, and everyone's favourite show bags.
If you can handle heights, take a trip on the 360-degree ride for an unforgettable upside-down view of the whole festival in all its glory.
Where to Stay
With so much going on, you’ll probably be tempted to stay awhile in the Garden City.
Happily, the city boasts an array of camping sites, cottages, B&Bs, self-contained rentals and hotels.
Just be sure to book early – with some 200,000 visitors making the pilgrimage annually, accommodation books out quickly.
From beautiful blooms to music, rides, art, family fun and a sense of community and joy that truly will put a spring in your step, The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers - and all that its surrounds have to offer - is unmissable.
Oh, and many festival highlights are dog friendly, with some off-leash areas for your pup to play, so no one has to stay home!