September 3, 2019

6 Things You Might Not Know About The Toowoomba Carnival Of Flowers

It’s the biggest event on Toowoomba’s calendar, responsible for bringing hundreds of thousands of people to our streets for many decades.

But how much do you really know about the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers? Here are 6 things you might not know about the event.

#1: Post-war beginnings

This year is the 70th anniversary of the first Carnival of Flowers event, after it started in 1949 to give the local economy a boost in the aftermath of World War II. Attendance was around 50,000 at the first parade in 1950, but now we welcome more than 250,000 people to our city every year for the festivities.

#2: 2019 marks an event record

The Carnival is always full of exciting and diverse events, but this year takes the program to the next level. There’ll be 77 events (22 of which are free) across the 10-day period – a record high in the festival’s 70-year history. And it’s not just flowers – these events include a gala dinner, food and wine, arts and crafts, music, garden tours and a night garden.

#3: There are over 2000 volunteers every year

It’s fair to say the event wouldn’t be possible without the support of the community, but Toowoomba locals take it a step further by giving their time to help everything run smoothly. More than 2000 volunteers pitch in each year on a huge range of projects, working as parade officers, bus guides, information officers, festival helpers or parade entrants. This is on top of the Carnival and council staff who make the event possible.

#4: There’ll be a pop-up choir this year – and you can join

Have you ever wanted to join a choir? Now’s your chance! On Sunday 22 September, 800 singers will come together to perform two songs at the Heritage Bank Festival of Food & Wine, before Australian icon John Farnham takes to the stage that evening. It’s free to participate and you’ll attend a rehearsal on the Wednesday to get ready for the show.

#5: Over 100 gardens will be on display

Toowoomba really lives up to its name as the Garden City in September – the city is full of beautiful gardens throughout the Carnival, with more than 100 gardens available to visit across 1100 hectares of land. This includes public gardens, like Queens Park and Laurel Bank Park, or private gardens that owners have opened up to visitors. Check the website to plan your itinerary.

#6: Women’s rugby and the first Carnival Queen

The very first Carnival Queen, Fay Ryan, turned to unusual fundraising tactics to win the crown in 1950. To raise money for local charities, she held a ladies’ rugby match, as well as a game between jockeys from Toowoomba and Brisbane, an entertaining event that Fay says left locals “agog”. On top of meat tray raffles, local dances and donation boxes in pubs, this event helped her raise the most money to be crowned Carnival Queen. The fundraising activities led by young local women continued for decades, as part of the Carnival of Flowers Ambassador Program.

The Carnival of Flowers runs from 20-29 September 2019. Find out more about what’s on at the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers website and get involved with our community’s largest event.

Article by Jacqui Walker

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