The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers will go ahead in a varied format with 170,000 blooms planted across the city's major parks and public spaces to create a spectacular canvas of colour for much needed celebrations in September.
In a year that has seen a raft of events cancelled due to COVID-19, the Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor Paul Antonio confirmed that the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers will bloom brightly again this September, as one of the first major events to be staged post-lockdown.
The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers will run from September 18 to 27.
The 2020 program features over 30 events with 48 local tour departures ready to go.
All events, experiences and areas will be managed with COVID-19 safe plans in place.
"Toowoomba is primed and ready to showcase it's natural beauty. Nothing can stop the power of the flower and we are inviting people from all over to come and play in the petals this Spring," Mayor Antonio said.
In what was a nod to history, Mayor Antonio said the event would once again be the shining light for the region.
"The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers was established in 1949 to stimulate the economy after the war, and some 71 years later we see this iconic national event again stepping up to the task of celebrating community spirit, welcoming visitors to the city and flying the flag for our region."
Headlining the 2020 Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers are the parks and public spaces, including Laurel Bank Park and the Botanic Gardens of Queens Park, not affected by COVID-19 restrictions. Floral displays, music and parkland entertainment, a ferris wheel, food trucks and twilight tours will all take place right across September in the parks.
The Night Garden, powered by Ergon Energy, is being embedded into the Botanic Gardens and will become a free 10-day event. More than 106,000 people enjoyed the Botanic Gardens during the 10 days of Carnival in 2019.
In a creative twist, the famous Grand Central Floral Parade will become a static installation of decorated floats throughout Grand Central shopping centre in the heart of the city. A new addition to the 2020 program is the Itty-Bitty Parade, a miniature-sized virtual parade that will air on big screens, websites and social media platforms at 3pm on September 19.
The program features a new region-wide food trail called #trEATS, as well as the popular Talking Pub and Foodie Dinner Tours, guided and non-guided walking tours, as well as activations at the famous Spring Bluff Railway Station, Cobb + Co Museum and the much-loved floral group displays.
"After a spectacular 70th anniversary event in 2019, we were adamant that COVID-19 was not stopping us," Mayor Antonio said.
"Every day we field emails and calls from people right across Australia asking if Carnival is on, and I'd like to thank all our supporters and stakeholders for their understanding as we worked through the health concerns and attendance restrictions of this new world.
"In 2019 the number one attraction for visitors was the public park floral displays, with Laurel Bank Park recording over 79,000 attendees and Queens Park Botanic Gardens over 106,000 visitors over the 10 days.
"While numbers may be down this year due to COVID-19, the 170,000 blooms will still colour the city and are all 100 per cent free to see," he said.
Mayor Antonio said that in line with COVID19-safe requirements, the Heritage Bank Festival of Food and Wine, as well as the Qantas Gala Dinner, will both be rested in 2020.
He encouraged locals to invite their family and friends to Toowoomba for the event in September, to "show off" the city in the best possible way.
"I encourage everyone to lock in their overnight stays in Toowoomba early, book your bed plus your dining locations now so you can be guaranteed a spot. There is so much to see and do with all the petals in our parks. Take a road trip around the region, buy a #trEAT or two and help local businesses get back on their feet," Mayor Antonio said.
Minister for State Development, Tourism and Innovation Kate Jones said Toowoomba was the place to be in September.
"For more than 70 years Queensland's internationally-recognised Carnival has been built around promoting our natural beauty and colourful blooms each Spring," Ms Jones said.
"This event is vital when it comes to supporting local businesses and local jobs."
"With our borders now open to most of Australia, we're urging Aussies to head to Toowoomba this September for a great holiday."