Begonia festival program revealed

February 6, 2024 BY

Behind the scenes: City of Ballarat’s gardens and nursery curator, Donna Thomas, spoke at the Begonia Festival launch about preparing displays for the major event. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

THE seventy-second Ballarat Begonia Festival is approaching, and the City of Ballarat officially launched the campaign in the lead-up to the event on Wednesday Morning.

Set for the long weekend of Saturday 9 to Monday 11 March, the program will include the traditional begonia displays, the parade, a range of activities and entertainment, and workshops.

Gardens and nursery curator Donna Thomas said begonias are so synonymous with Ballarat and its botanical gardens that they’re on the city’s coat of arms.

“We’ve been raising begonias here since at least the 1890s,” she said.

“We have two registered collections; the lovely, big showy ones, and a second collection… that grow more for their foliage, and they’re both equally beautiful and equally valued.

“Here we grow some 240 different types of begonias, and in total, we grow some 3000 begonia plants.”

When it comes to entertainment at this year’s festival, presenters of cooking and gardening segments on stage will include Gardening Australia’s Jerry Coleby-Williams and Hannah Moloney, River Cottage Australia’s Paul West, and MasterChef’s Courtney Roulston.

The Sway troupe of performers will return with their aerial pole skills, this year with a new show, These Things.

The Ballarat Begonia Festival was established in 1953, and a maze installation in 2024 will hark back to some of the early editions of the event.

A range of eating and drinking options will be available with food truck and bar sections of the park.

Central Highlands Water’s involvement continues, with 100 per cent of Choose Tap bottle sales going to the Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative.