Ballarat in full bloom this March long weekend

Words by Penny Cordner 
Images supplied

Make the most of the upcoming Labour Day long weekend at the free Ballarat Begonia Festival (7-9 March) – three lively days bursting with gardening tips and displays, children’s activities, culinary delights, craft markets and special celebrity guests.

Ballarat Mayor, Cr Ben Taylor says Ballarat’s largest and oldest festival, originally designed to celebrate Australia’s Begonia display, continues to draw huge crowds thanks to its ability to cater to all tastes and age groups, with a focus on free, family-friendly entertainment.

This festival attracts everyone from hard-core gardeners to people seeking ideas for their own home, as well as those who simply enjoy the relaxing surrounds as they listen to free music and enjoy local food and wine.

The three-day program is jam-packed. Saturday is for all budding green-thumbs, with expert advice from ‘Gardening Australia’ hosts Costa Georgiadis and Sophie Thomson throughout the day. Find inspiration for your own backyard makeover, or get some tips on what to plant throughout the year.

Foodies should check out the festival on Sunday, when MasterChef favourites Poh Ling Yeow, Anushka Zargaryan and Tim Bone (a Ballarat local) will host cooking master classes, inspiring you with new skills and recipes.

Monday will be a true family day, with beloved ABC Kids’ characters, Bluey and Bingo making an appearance, in addition to The Super Sandpit and Tiny Towns. It’s never too early to encourage the younger generation to think about recycling, and that’s exactly what ‘DirtGirl’ will do. 

No matter which day you visit, you can explore the display of more than 600 begonias, which is complemented by a tranquil water display that uses ferns from the City of Ballarat’s nursery.

Afterwards, relax with pizza and wine in the Begonia Courtyard or check out the 20+ food trucks. There will also be live music across three stages, local beer from Red Duck Brewery and Cubby Haus Brewing, wine from Wightwick and gin from Kilderkin Distillery at the Begonia Bar.

“With free live entertainment, a host of kid-friendly activities and not one, but three former MasterChefs in the house, the 2020 festival will certainly cater to all tastes,” says Ben.

“It’s going to be another fabulous Autumn event.”

For a memento of the day, you can take home a pot or two from the Gardener’s and Creative Designer’s Markets.

2020 marks the 68th Ballarat Begonia Festival and the 163rd anniversary of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.


WHAT: Ballarat Begonia Festival
WHERE: Ballarat Botanical Gardens
WHEN: 7-9 March