What’s On: Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers & Festival of Food and Wine

Photographed by Matt Edwards

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers

1 – 30 September, 2021


Petal power! The multi-award-winning Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers (TCOF) has unveiled a month-long program of flowers and flavours for 2021, an extension of the 10-day event that has taken place in Queensland’s city on the range for the past 72 years.

TCOF 2020 was the first free, unfenced, outdoor, major tourism event in Australia to be delivered during COVID-19 restrictions, and saw more than 200,000 visitors from all over Queensland attend.

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. Wendy and Alistair Green from Toowoomba gear up for the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT

Chair of the Toowoomba Regional Council Environment and Community Services Committee Cr James O’Shea said the COVID-19 format of TCOF had become the blueprint for change in 2021, with new events added to the 2021 program and the welcome return of others.

“It’s with great excitement that we can announce the return of the famous Festival of Food and Wine, to be held from September 10 to 12 celebrating the best in regional produce and Australian music in Queens Park,” said Cr O’Shea. “We also welcome back one of the highlights of Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers in the Grand Central Floral Parade; it’s the event that stops the city, with thousands of families lining the streets to watch the colour go by. It will be held on Saturday September 18 with a much earlier start time of 10am, allowing crowds to enjoy a full day shopping, sightseeing and adventuring in our city.” 

Image supplied

Since its inception in 1949, the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers has flourished and is now an iconic Queensland event. The brainchild of Essex Tait and the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce, TCOF was introduced as a way for the city to use its “Garden City” reputation to promote increased economic activity following the hardships of war. On 21 October 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, it was a resounding success, as it has been ever since.

A few 2021 festival highlights:

  • Floral Displays in all parks and public spaces including feature blooms in Queens Park, the Botanic Gardens and Laurel Bank Park, as well as floral chalk art.
  • #trEATS regional food trail which shines the light on cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs with floral inspired dishes – 36 eateries took part in 2020, with many more flavour-makers expected in 2021.
  • High Cheese at Spring Bluff in partnership with Lockyer Valley Regional Council, hosted by famed chef and local produce champion, Alastair McLeod, on Saturday September 4 at the heritage-listed railway station.
  • The Grand Central Floral Parade on Saturday September 18 at 10am.
  • Side Show Alley in Queens Park returns in a kaleidoscope of colour, crazy and cool!
  • The Ferris Wheel in the Botanic Gardens will be open for all ages.
  • Cinema Under the Stars at the Drayton and Toowoomba Cemetery, a free community event with a line-up of classic movies.
  • The Talking Pubs tours, to be held every Sunday of the Festival with more to be announced.
  • The light-filled Night Garden in the Botanic Gardens.
  • Parkland entertainment featuring local musicians and entertainers.
  • Twilight Tours in Laurel Bank Park.
  • The popular dog-friendly Petals and Pups program.
  • Guided and non-guided walking tours.
  • Cobb + Co Museum will have a packed program for young and old to discover.
  • Community events, gardening experiences and gardening displays will be happening across the month.
Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. Jasmine Aleisha and Chris Richter (father and daughter duo). Picture: NIGEL HALLETT

Iconic names in Australian music Grace Knight, Wendy Matthews, Richard Clapton and GANGgajang lead the music line-up for this year’s Festival of Food and Wine (10-12 September) at the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, joined over the three days by Sarah Blasko and Ash Grunwald along with The Beautiful Girls. In a highlight for 2021, nine local music-makers will take to the stage in a 50/50 split between feature and local acts. Also new to the Festival this year is The Botanical Society, a styled private bar serving custom-created cocktails, private toilets and boasting premium viewing of the main stage for those aged 18+.

In addition to over 40 food and wine stalls, the 2021 Festival also has a range of Carnival Hampers on offer, showcasing local produce and the perfect way to enjoy the park and the tunes! These are available to order online and can be collected in the Festival ready to enjoy.

Find more information on the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers website. Accommodation, day trip and longer stay itineraries are all available.

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