The launch this week of our newest event – the Gardenesque flower and garden festival to be held in the Botanic Gardens next month – heralded the beginning of what we hope will become an extra cornerstone of our local events calendar, attracting green thumbs from far and wide to celebrate everything that’s good about gardens and gardening.
A first for Albury, it promises to be educational, inspiring and – quite simply – lots of fun. With music, food, wine, flowers, entertainment and of course, workshops and tips and tricks for your backyard, Gardenesque will grow over the next four years to become the biggest and best festival of its type between Melbourne and Canberra.
As a new festival, it’s a fantastic fit with the host of other seasonal and scheduled events that brighten our community. These events, such as Music in the Gardens, QEII Twilight Markets and Carols by Candlelight, entertain and inform locals, attract visitors and generate valuable income for our business sector.
Our events program sets a target of generating at least $30M in economic impact each year - and it’s pleasing to note we’re surpassing that aim.
A report presented to council on Monday night has confirmed that the popularity of our festivals and other events continues to translate into a lucrative boost to local businesses.
While there was a reduction in the number of events in 2018-19 compared to the previous year, we were very pleased to record increased participation and overnight visitation. In fact, despite there being fewer events, increased attendances and extended length of stays by visitors injected a massive $40.88M into local coffers – an increase of $3.25M over the previous year.
An estimated 133,000 locals took part in our events in 2018-19 (an 11 per cent increase over 2017-18), showing our community’s appetite for events activities is continuing to grow. One example can be seen in April’s Food Truck Carnival, which attracted 34,000 people – mostly from the local area - over four days. That’s a lot of tasty food and well-fed customers!
Add to that, a whopping 52,000 visitors to the city to attend and participate in a range of activities and things are looking healthy on the events front.
The statistics back up the message that our community sends to us – that events continue to form an important part of the city’s lifestyle offering.
The challenge for council is to ensure that we continue to offer great events, with new approaches combining with our tried and true attractions to provide fantastic experiences that draw crowds and keep visitors coming back for more.
And that’s where Gardenesque comes in as a new and innovative way to grow our events economy. With something to please everyone, it will be Albury’s premier flower and garden show and we’re looking forward to seeing it grow and thrive as an annual ‘must-do’ for locals and visitors alike.