The Ballarat Begonia Festival will celebrate its 70th birthday this year with celebrity garden designer Jamie Durie, spectacular flower displays, installations, workshops, live music and much more.
The free festival will feature an exciting program of events throughout the Ballarat Botanical Gardens and CBD.
The full festival program is available online now at ballaratbegoniafestival.com
The opening weekend festivities will take place at the historic Ballarat Botanical Gardens over the Labour Day long weekend (Saturday 12 March – Monday 14 March).
Visit the 150-year-old gardens and take in spectacular displays of 700 rare begonias in the Robert Clark Conservatory, marvel at intricate floral displays and installations including the event’s famous flower clock and illuminated swan, purchase begonias to take home, explore the gardens with an audio tour, and much more.
Pick up expert gardening advice from presentations on the main stage including international award-winning designer and TV presenter Jamie Durie, plus enjoy cooking demonstrations with MasterChef alumni Simon Toohey and Ballarat local Tim Bone.
Make a day of it with plenty of green space to spread out with a picnic blanket.
In addition to food, drinks, music and roving entertainment, there will be a variety of activities for kids on offer, from crafting flower chandeliers to contributing to a fabric forest installation.
New to the festival in 2022, three Ballarat laneways will come alive with begonia and nature-inspired installations co-created by artists Hattie Molloy and Esther Olsson.
Begonia Byway will see McKenzie Street, Hop Lane and Police Lane transformed with immersive floral, light and art installations that embrace Ballarat’s historical connection to begonias and draw upon Olsson’s nostalgic memories of visiting the festival as a child.
The playful and textural displays will include pixelated begonias on glittering shimmer boards, a flower netting-inspired chequerboard floor, tussock grasses, neon begonias, and hay bales wrapped in floral designs.
Visitors can weave their way through the laneway installations towards Alfred Deakin Place, which will be home to the Ballarat Boom Box on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
The pop-up stage will host live music performances by local musicians between 5pm and 8pm throughout the festival.
And don’t miss Food Truck Friday – a gathering of food trucks at Alfred Deakin Place on 11 and 18 March between 5pm and 8pm.
Those with a green thumb can join in at one of the gardening workshops and presentations throughout the festival.
Caroline Parker from The Cottage Herbalist will lead a weed foraging walk on Saturday 12 March around Sovereign Hill, where she will introduce the historical and folkloric use of herbs.
There will also be tours of Sovereign Hill’s Speedwell Street gardens on each day of the festival.
For those keen to bring home a piece of the festival, plant sales will be on offer daily at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.
More than 4000 begonias – grown locally for 10 months, especially for the event – will be available for purchase.
The Ballarat Botanical Gardens will also host the Gardeners Market (12-14 March), with local nurseries and horticultural societies selling a range of flowers, plants and garden gifts.
Other highlights from the line-up of more than 40 events include a ‘Getting Started in Beekeeping’ workshop with Backyard Beekeeping Ballarat‘s Amanda Collins and Scott Denno (14 March), ‘Paint your Begonia Watercolour Workshop’ at The Green House Ballarat (19 March), and Pinot and Picasso Ballarat‘s painting workshops (12 and 17 March).
The enduring appeal of the begonia extends beyond city activations and floral displays with a variety of one-off begonia-inspired creations crafted by Ballarat locals to celebrate the festival’s 70th year.
Kilderkin Distillery has unveiled a limited-edition Begonia Floral Gin by infusing begonia leaves, stems and carefully-curated herb and fruit botanicals, including chamomile and long-leaf waxed flower from the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.
The natural, scarlet colour of Begonia Floral Gin has been created by steeping the gin in begonia petals.
It will be available to purchase at kilderkindistillery.com.au from 11 March until sold out.
For something sweet, don’t miss the Begonia Drops – Sovereign Hill’s classic hard-boiled lollies inspired by the colours of Ballarat’s begonias.
Begonia Drops are available for purchase now until the end of March (or until sold out) for $5 a jar at Sovereign Hill.