Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers 2023

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers 2023


Posted 2023-07-31 by Irenke Forsythfollow

Fri 01 Sep 2023 - Sat 30 Sep 2023

The ‘Garden City’ of Toowoomba in the Darling Downs region of Queensland is gearing up for its annual spring Carnival of Flowers that is held over the entire month of September. A multitude of events see visitors coming from near and afar to experience the beauty, food and country charm of this town 90mins west of Brisbane.

Queens Park

Highlights, are as follows:-

Festival of Food & Wine (8th-10th Sept)

One of the first major events in the carnival calendar is this festival within a festival. For three mouth-watering days, the region will deliver flavoursome food, wines fresh from vineyards, and a whole lot more, all in one location.

Celebrity chef Justine Schofield will be cooking with a range of seasonal produce on the Farm to Fork stage, the Paddock Butchery is cooking up a selection of BBQ delights in the Pit Yard and a tasting room sees you trying meats as well as artisan cheeses paired with local wines and artisan spirits. There’s also beer appreciation, where you learn about the brewing process and different styles of beer (including craft beers).

A delicious fruity cheese

From pop-up cellar doors to a cocktail bar mixing up springtime-inspired cocktails, and loads of food, you won’t go hungry or thirsty here. Live music on the main stage adds to the atmosphere and there’s some well-known artists appearing, including Sneaky Sound System, the Hoodoo Gurus, Chocolate Starfish, Eurogliders and Jon Stevens. Relive the songs of Fleetwood Mac & Stevie Nicks with the Dreams tribute show, that’s sure to be a fan favourite, or listen to something new from a local musician.

There’s plenty to enjoy and, of course, flowers are a feature. You can make a lovely flower crown at the Flower Factory and take selfies in front of gorgeous floral art installations, made from thousands of petals.

In need of a break to chill out away from the crowds, then the Petals Patch is the perfect place to relax. You can also drop the kids off at the Cubby House, a supervised zone with interactive and fun activities.

Click here for tickets and further information.

Where: Upper Queens Park, Cnr Margaret & Lindsays Sts, Toowoomba

Grand Central Floral Parade (16th Sept)

Last year's entry from QCWA charity

The colourful floral parade sees a marching band leading the way, followed by street performers, carnival characters and roving entertainment escorting the stunning floats on their journey through the heart of the city.

Aussie Aussie Aussie

Various businesses participate and spend countless hours decorating their floats each year. Last year saw a wedding cake float, an Aussie float consisting of a giant cockatoo and platypus, the Scouts with a rock climbing wall and many others with themes and an abundance of flowers and plants, including the Woolworths float with the company selling the flowers and plants at the end of the parade. It was a great way to avoid waste, giving garden lovers a pick of nature at dirt-cheap prices. You never know what surprises you’re in for this year.

The Woollies float

You can view the parade at various vantage points as it winds its way through a number of streets to the oval in Queens Park. You may want to bring a foldable chair with you to enjoy it in comfort.

When: 10am-12pm
Map route:

Sideshow Alley (15th-17th Sept)

Get some great views of Queens Park and beyond from up high

Get the adrenaline going at Sideshow Alley as you take on thrill seeking rides, heart-stopping views from the 360 degree ride and sideshow games with a shot at winning a top shelf prize. There’s something for all ages here.

Plenty of food too, with favourites such as dagwood dogs and fairy floss that are always associated with such an event. Showbags are available as well and, as day becomes night, settle down to watch the fireworks (Fri & Sat from 8.30pm & Sun from 7.30pm).

Entry to Sideshow Alley is free, although some rides and activities require coupons. Prices are $2 for one coupon, $30 for 18 coupons, $60 for 40 coupons, and so on. You can purchase these from the ticket booth on the day.

When: Fri 5pm-10pm, Sat 9am-10pm, Sun 9am-9pm
Where: Lower Queens Park, Cnr Margaret & Hume Sts, Toowoomba

Floral Displays

Masses of flowers await in several parks and gardens, as well as churches and a museum, in and around Toowoomba. Garden lovers will delight in the following -

Queens Park

The majestic beauty of Queens Park

It’s certainly the place for a lot of the action during the carnival and the Botanic Gardens section of Queens Park is a sight to behold with flower beds and displays that change each year. You’re sure to be dazzled with colour and design that will have you taking numerous photos.

Flowers galore

Adding to the pretty picture are tree-lined avenues, manicured hedges, the Alfred Thomas memorial, a stone entrance arch, fountains and a lovely bridge. During the carnival, you can also take a ride on the ferris wheel and enjoy free musical performances from local talent as part of Heritage Bank Parkland Entertainment .

Come evening, there’s the Night Garden event that sees lights and installations, along with food trucks/vendors serving up delicious items to satisfy your hunger.

Don't forget to look up to see what's glowing in the night

Where: 43 Lindsay St, Toowoomba

Laurel Bank Park

One of many sculpted items from last year's display

This majestic park is another must-see feature garden with some people saying its floral displays are better than those in Queens Park. It’s a hard contest with Laurel Bank Park offering gorgeous plantings in manicured gardens with interesting structures, topiary animals/insects, sculptures, a pond and fountain with a bridge, a scented garden designed for the visually impaired and an area where garden beds have been planted and arranged to form patterns within them. Last year saw the theme “What Flutters By?” with butterflies, bees and wasps. Climbing a small tower allowed you to see it all from above. The theme for this year is being kept under wraps at the moment.

There's lots to love here

Last year's theme of "What Flutters By?"

You can also enjoy free music here, again thanks to Heritage Bank. Click here for entertainment dates & times.

As the sun goes down, you can see the park from another perspective through a Twilight Tour with a park gardener showing you the darker side of plant life. The spotlight will be on some shady characters from far off places, tracking down exotic and rare species, and learning what goes on behind the scenes to create this picture perfect park.

Meeting at the Info Hub in the park, the 1hr nocturnal tour runs on select nights of the festival from 6.30pm with tickets priced at $10 per person.

Where: 50 Hill St, Toowoomba

Picnic Point Parklands

Beauty on the hill

Perched high on the crest of the Great Dividing Range, these parklands are the perfect place for birdwatching whilst providing breathtaking views over the Lockyer Valley. Flowers are on a smaller scale here, but nonetheless beautiful, adding to the wonder of this scenic area.

The views at this lookout spot extend to the Picnic Point cafe/restaurant where you can enjoy a freshly-brewed coffee, Devonshire tea or meal and admire the beauty through the large windows. Alternatively, picnic spots and free barbecues are available should you wish to eat outdoors on the lawns.

The scones are a must here

Picnic Point is also the place for the Teddy Bears Picnic on 23rd Sept. From 8.30am-11.30am, children can bring along their teddy bear, play fun interactive games, enjoy colouring-in and roving entertainment. Tambo Teddy families can be part of the ‘roll-call’ and all teddies are invited to be in the fashion parade (registration on the day). Food stalls are available or you can bring your own food for a picnic. Entry is free.

Where: 164 Tourist Rd, Toowoomba

Spring Bluff Railway Station Gardens

A short drive to see this beauty

Home to over 150 years of railway history and beautifully-landscaped gardens, Spring Bluff is only 20mins north of Toowoomba by car and makes for a nice and easy country drive.

You can ride the steam train during carnival time. Set dates and times are yet to be scheduled. They will be announced closer to the event via the station’s Facebook page , where they will post all the information and a link to book online.

Oops! Just missed the train heading out

From dawn to dusk throughout September, you can admire an array of poppies, ranunculi, stocks, snapdragons, petunias and many other annuals bursting into colour at this station dubbed the prettiest in South East Queensland.

Spring colour at the Bluff

On 17th Sept, from 10.30am-3pm, there’s music to enjoy from the Jim Miller Big Band playing tunes of yesteryear. Bring a picnic blanket, settle in and be transported to another era.

Where: 59 McCormack Drv, Spring Bluff

Other Gardens

There are so many other wonderful gardens you can explore if you’re staying a while. You might want to visit one or more of the private gardens open and get some ideas for your own yard.

A private garden in Highfields provided a great idea to attract birds

Some gardens will be winners from the Chronicle Garden Competition and these are free to enter 9am-5pm, 15th-17th Sept & 22nd-24th Sept. They will be announced in The Chronicle newspaper on 15th Sept with locations, however, if you miss this you can purchase a guide from the Visitor Centre to get the addresses.

The other private gardens are known as the Toowoomba Exhibition Gardens and this year there will be 5 spectacular gardens full of inspiration that you can visit from 9am-5pm, 15th-24th Sept. There is a small cost of $5 per garden or $20 for all 5 gardens, with the entry fees being donated between 6 local charities. Tickets can be purchased at the gardens on the day (cash only). Click here for addresses.

But wait, there’s more. Permanently-open gardens include the serene Japanese Garden Ju Raku En, the Toowoomba Garden of Remembrance and the beautiful and diverse Boyce Gardens in Mt Lofty (just minutes from Toowoomba CBD).

It’s a good idea to drop into the Visitor Centre (86 James St) and get some maps or a carnival garden book that lists all the gardens and their locations. You can pick up some lovely gift items too.

St Luke’s Flower Art & Music Festival

The heritage-listed St Luke's Church

The historic church of St Luke’s is the scene for a number of displays and stalls from 15th-20th Sept, from 9am-4pm. Outside you can walk the city labyrinth, check out the large selection of plants for sale, peruse second-hand books and enjoy refreshments in the grounds.

Inside you can admire beautiful floral arrangements and installations created by volunteers, local artists exhibiting their artworks and a showcase of arts and crafts from the Toowoomba spinners, weavers and dyers group.

One of multiple arrangements made by volunteers

A bit of fun last year with some spooky vibes

There will be music concerts every weekday at 12.30pm in this Anglican brick and stone church that’s a beauty in itself with its lovely arches and stained-glass windows.

Entry: $2
Where: 152 Herries St, Toowoomba

Cobb & Co Hanging Basket Display

One of my favourites from last year

Through a back door from within the Cobb & Co Museum is an outdoor area where, during carnival time, you’ll find a display of around 50 beautiful hanging baskets. Each one is lovingly created by community members as part of a design competition, with both adults and school children contributing entries. Supported by Yates, you can get involved by casting your vote in the People’s Choice award.

Whilst there, explore this wonderful museum that celebrates the history of the horse-drawn era with the National Carriage Collection. Along with heritage trades and demonstrations, there’s temporary and permanent exhibits, collections of cultural artefacts and natural specimens.

From a bygone era

A coffee shop serves up breakfast, lunch and Devonshire teas, whilst the gift shop has a large selection of items to purchase as a memento of your visit.

Hanging Basket Display: 8th-30th Sept, 9.30am-4pm, free
Museum Open: 9.30am-4pm, 7dys
Museum Entry: $12.50 per adult, $10 for Concession Card holders & $6.50 per child (3-15yrs)
Where: 27 Lindsay St, Toowoomba


Peachy Waffles from Jillys Cafe

Fantastic foodie moments await with cafes, pubs, cocktails bars and everything in-between serving up the best of Toowoomba. #treats is an initiative where eateries put up springtime specials during the carnival period with a cost from $10-$20.

Last year I tried a few different specials, including the divine Peachy Waffles at Jillys Cafe, the Reimagined Tiramisu (better than a standard original) at Cobb’s Coffee Shop and the cooling Coconut Cherry Bloom Gelato from Gelatissimo.

The mouth-watering Reimagined Tiramisu from Cobb's Coffee Shop

This year’s menu of participants and dishes will be uploaded to the website in late August. There will also be delicious sneak peeks on social media.

Foodie Dinner Tour

Discover more of the flavours of Toowoomba when taking this dinner tour. You’ll dine at 3 locally-loved restaurants with coach transfer between venues so you can drink at each location and not worry about driving.

Each of the establishments will serve one food item and one drink. There’s entree at Cobb & Co, main course at Gips Restaurant and dessert at Burke & Wills. The cost is $139 for this delicious evening. You can view the menu, dates and make a booking here .

Talking Pubs Tour

If a pub is more your scene, then this tour may suit you. Eat and drink at 4 character-filled pubs on a 4hr journey beginning at 11am with Muller Bros, followed by The Brewhouse, Tatt’s Hotel and The Rock.

The tour is available each Sunday during the carnival period, as well as the last Saturday in September, and is priced at $99 per person (Adults Only 18yrs & over, no children allowed). Food and one drink is included at each location.

For the full menu and tickets, click here .


Toowoomba Farmers Market (Every Sat, plus Fri 15th Sept & Sun 10th & 17th Sept)

Running till noon, you can buy direct from farmers and local artisans here. There’s an ever-changing number of stalls that sell the likes of handmade soaps, beauty products, leather goods, jewellery and more.

Pick up something special for yourself or as a gift

Along with food from a variety of vendors and music from local entertainers, this market is a must for shoppers and a popular one with parking available.

Where: 30 Lindsay St, Toowoomba

Queens Park Twilight Market (8th Sept)

The best of local craftsmanship is what you’ll find at this market with talented artisans showing all sorts of handmade products, from toys to macrame, skincare, homewares, gin, wines and more.

Come along, from 4pm-8pm, find a unique treasure and support the local community in the process.

Where: 43-73 Lindsay St, Toowoomba

Cinema Under the Stars (30th Sept)

Flash back to the year 2000 with a free screening of the im-peck-able classic Chicken Run at Middle Ridge Park. Set on an egg farm, this DreamWorks animated adventure comedy sees the chickens plotting to escape before they’re turned into chicken pie.

The story has mishaps, a dance party, a romantic relationship and a whole lot more which contributed to it becoming the highest-grossing stop-motion animated film of its time. Characters were brought to life through the voices of Phil Daniels, Mel Gibson, Miranda Richardson, Julia Sawalha and Imelda Staunton, amongst several others.

Bring the picnic blanket and settle in for this night under the stars, where food trucks will be serving up popcorn and dinner options from 5.30pm. The movie runs for 84mins, beginning at 6.30pm.

Where: 300 Stenner St, Toowoomba

The above gardens and events are just some of what you can enjoy but there’s a whole lot more to discover as well. For the full list of what’s on, visit the carnival website .

(All images are those of the author)

261664 - 2023-07-28 00:08:44


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