Ballarat Begonia Festival to Debut Brand New Begonia Flower this March
The Ballarat Begonia Festival will debut a never-before-seen begonia flower over the Labour Day long weekend (9-11 March). The brand new begonia cultivar will be named after the Ballarat Botanical Gardens’ inaugural curator – Begonia ‘George Longley’ – with the highly anticipated colour of the new flower to be unveiled at the Festival.
Begonia ‘George Longley’ becomes the third begonia variety the Ballarat Botanical Gardens Team has cultivated for the annual event. The last begonia to debut was the Begonia ‘Peter Marquand’ in 2023.
Another first across the long weekend will be the world premiere of SWAY’s new show: ‘These Things.’ Festival-goers can immerse themselves in a sensory experience where music, dance and circus acts transport viewers to a world where the boundaries between reality and fantasy are blurred.
The Melbourne-based performing arts company’s new production will see the performers swing, spin and bend atop tall poles adorned with begonias, mesmerising audiences on Ballarat Botanical Gardens’ main lawn.
FULL FESTIVAL PROGRAM
The Festival’s full program is now available online at ballaratbegoniafestival.com with key highlights including:
This year’s theme – Fern Fever – pays tribute to the Ballarat Fernery, one of Australia’s oldest, that dates back to the 1880s where its construction was overseen by George Longely. The Fernery will reopen during the Festival after being restored.
The ‘Fern Fever’ theme will continue with spiral designs and embedded shapes of fern fronds inspiring the famous begonia display. Visitors are invited to explore the rich history of The Fernery, which showcases 400 ferns inside and 400 exotic plants in the grounds; a testament to the city’s botanical heritage.
Visit the 150-year-old gardens and take in the spectacular display of rare begonias in the Robert Clark Conservatory. The 2024 display will showcase more than 500 begonia plants.
Main Stage Entertainment
The festival weekend will feature a line-up of interactive workshops, cooking demonstrations and talks by:
● Paul West: The River Cottage personality will run horticulture and nature-based presentations as well as cooking demonstrations (skirt tacos and grilled chilli corn).
● Hannah Moloney: The ABC Gardening Australia host will present some sustainability and gardening workshops on ‘how to grow from scratch’ and ‘how to build a wicking bed.’
● Courtney Roulston: The MasterChef Australia alumni will demonstrate how to cook Vietnamese prawn fritters and a barbecue vegetable salad with coconut rice.
● Jerry Coleby-Williams: The Festival’s resident begonia expert will share his knowledge on how to grow begonias as well as how he has managed to live sustainably for 20 years.
Bright and beautiful stilt-walking bees, bugs and butterflies will rove throughout the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, bringing a sense of magic to the festivities.
Enjoy performances from well-known and emerging local artists including Sweet Mona’s Choir, The Hardies Hillbillies, The Milla Williams Duo, Los Locos, Geoffrey Williams, Whizbang and The Darling Family Trust.
Bring the kids for a day full of fun with Integra Tiny Town (mini cubbies to explore), face painting and art and crafts from the Art Gallery of Ballarat. Plus, take a journey through the Begonia Maze.
The Western Bulldogs return to the Ballarat Begonia Festival with a fun and engaging footy clinic in the dedicated Sports Zone. Then, challenge your strength, agility and speed at the Perfit Obstacle Course.
Wander and explore more than 20 market stalls offering a range of flowers, plants and garden gifts. From local nurseries to horticultural societies, the Begonia Market is a vibrant hub for plant enthusiasts looking to take home a piece of the Festival.
Food and Beverage Vendors
Indulge in scrumptious offerings from over 20 food and beverage vendors spread across two locations or relax and unwind at the Begonia Bar featuring locally crafted beverages from some of Ballarat’s favourite brewers and distillers.
Admire the artistic ‘Begonia’ letters display on Sturt Street, designed by Wadawurrung Traditional Owner and artist Billy O’Toole. Each letter symbolises a unique aspect of Wadawurrung Country.
Don’t miss the grand finale of the Festival: the Power FM Begonia Parade on Monday 11 March. This year’s parade features 30 community groups, schools and businesses, promising a vibrant and celebratory procession through the heart of the city.
For more info, visit website.