Experience your own forest fairytale and enjoy hot chocolate and DIY lanterns at Australian Botanic Gardens, Canberra.
I went on the weekend’s afterDARK Firefly tour, and it was great to experience the beauty and magic of the illuminated gardens.
The rainy night was illuminated by our handmade lanterns (minimally), glass lanterns (a little more) and torches (not so good for ambience but more effective in lighting).
We learnt about Bunya trees, rainforest ecosystems, and smelt lemon myrtle leaves and kangaroo droppings (luckily I wasn’t in the front row, but apparently they’re quite benign).
The fog machine in the rainforest gives a sense of wonder similar to Nakaya’s Fog sculpture at the National Gallery of Australia. You can find out about the Fog sculpture here.
afterDARK for couples?
Firefly tours have been marketed to children and families, but another demographic could also be couples.
Instead of hot chocolate, there could be fondue (with strawberries and coconut) while the couples undertake a craft activity like the lanterns.
It would also enhance the experience to have a cooking demonstration with native ingredients, e.g. lemon myrtle, quandong, or wattleseed.
This would be a great way to show the appeal of native Australian plants.
Walking through the gardens could be the romantic finale!
This would help the gardens to be considered as a future date (or wedding!) venue.
The afterDARK Firefly tours run from 6pm and 7pm Saturday 7 July and Saturday 4 August, there are more details here.
There are so many things to do in Canberra this weekend!
Here are my hot picks, compiled with thanks to 666 ABC Canberra’s event listings.
Beer on Saturday (14 April)
Canberra Craft Beer Festival promotes innovative breweries with both beer and cider.
Best of all, the festival raises money for the ACT Eden Monaro Cancer Support Group.
Held at Mercure (Civic) from 11am till 6pm.
Tickets include beer tasting. There’s also food, table tennis and the major selling point – a jumping castle!
Plant sales on Saturday (14 April)
Both Marymead and the Australian National Botanic Gardens are hosting fundraising plant sales.
Marymead’s Autumn plant sale (Narrabundah) is from 9am till 1pm.
Marymead will be selling ground covers, herbs, perennials, shrubs and trees.
The Native Plant Sale is at the Australian National Botanic Gardens (Acton).
The sale will run from 8:30am till 11am or sold out.
It’s hosted by the Growing Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens.
The native plant list is here.
Remember to bring something to protect your car seats or boot.
Plus some boxes and bags to carry all your new plants.
Wine all weekend (14 – 15 April)
Branch out from beer and visit the Canberra District Wine Harvest Festival.
Visit local vineyards to enjoy wonderful wine and olive oil tastings.
Plus gourmet platters, scones, cheesecake and mousse.
Listen to jazz or guitar and smell the roses.
Kids can make scarecrows and the whole family can stomp grapes or bottle wine.
Get a wine passport stamped at 3 wineries, and enter the wine prize draw.
See the full program and map here.
Bizzy Lizzy’s fantastic festival summary is also resplendent with beautiful photographs.
Heritage not just this weekend, but the whole of April
The Canberra and Region Heritage Festival runs for the whole of April with an astronomical number of events.
The very extensive program is here.
…heritage highlights this weekend (14 – 15 April)
You can attend talks on old Acton, history or guided walks, architecture tours, or visit the Tidbinbilla Extravaganza.
Plus eat a reproduction Titanic meal, or make a dry stone wall at Adelong Falls Gold Mill Ruins.
The guided walks are everywhere – Yarralumla, Bungendore, Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve, Acton, and Braidwood.
There’s even an archaeological walk near Burra Creek’s London Bridge (a limestone arch).
Even Gorman House will hark back to the 20s and 30s with period dress and all things ye olde.
See the whole program here (you can scroll to the selected dates for this weekend).
During the National Carillon’s open day on Sunday they will even be playing the Star Wars theme.
Brief program for the Carillon is here.
St John’s Heritage Precinct has an open day with markets, maypole dancing and a chance to see Canberra’s first Schoolhouse.
We visited when I was in primary school – I’m sure it’ll be much less daunting as an adult.
We wrote on slate boards and there was a very stern faux headmistress.
Jane Austen from Thursday to Sunday (12 – 15 April)
The Jane Austen Festival coincides with the Heritage Festival, and starts on Thursday with a movie.
Then over the weekend it has a full schedule of sewing workshops, dancing, classes, talks, a ball and a country fayre.
Camels at the National Museum of Australia on Sunday (15 April)
That’s right, camels.
Plus bellydancing, sand art animation, printmaking and music.
This is to celebrate the new exhibition, Travelling the Silk Road: ancient pathway to the modern world.
The full program is here.
Bonsai show all weekend (14 – 15 April)
Be impressed by the green thumbs of the Weston Creek Bonsai Group Autumn Show.
Sales, demonstrations, and advice for paler green thumbs.