Grafton Jacaranda Festival blooms for 2008
What started as one of Australia's first folk festivals in 1935 with an attendance of 4000 people; the Grafton Jacaranda Festival has continued to grow in popularity, as people celebrate the arrival of the gorgeous purple blooms covering the town.
Now in its 74th year, the Grafton Jacaranda Festival promises to be bigger, better and more colourful than previous years thanks to the many activities on offer.
From day one, the Grafton Jacaranda Festival will keep you and the children entertained with a children's party. There's also the decadent Jacaranda Ball in the evening where grown-ups can frock up and dance the night away.
As the festival continues, there's an array of activities for the family including The Daily Examiner's Parade of Youth Banner competition; a morning of madness in the market square; the grand float procession; loads of live entertainment; the crowning of the Jacaranda Festival Queen and for those who are fit and healthy – the annual Jacaranda Fun Run where you can choose between the 2km, 5km or 10km races.
While the major events occur on the weekend (so everyone can get involved); there are loads of weekday activities and open exhibitions like shop window displays that are decorated to suit the Jacaranda theme.
Be sure to take the family to the gorgeous twilight fair on Friday October 24, or save the pennies for the weekend where there's a plethora of markets just bulging with the promise of a bargain or two.
Another fun event that is an absolute must for adrenalin junkies is the annual Dragon Boat Race and family fun day, which is held on Sunday October 26 on the picturesque Clarence River.
WHERE ARE THE EVENTS LOCATED?
Most of the events are held in the Grafton town centre or regions just outside of the city. For detailed information, check the Jacaranda Festival's official website at www.jacarandafestival.org.au.
GREAT – BUT HOW DO I GET TO GRAFTON?
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Depending on where you're coming from, there's a range of transportation to get you to and from Grafton.
Most people will probably want to take their time and travel in the comfort of their own car. If so – it's
really a case of following the Pacific Highway (or the purple Jacaranda road) and the signs to Grafton.
Alternatively, there are a few bus-train combinations from Queensland to Grafton, with CountryLink offering limited services. Just note – most of the travel will probably be done by air-conditioned coach, but a train usually runs from Casino straight to Grafton. More in-depth details regarding timetables and costs for the CountryLink services can be found at their website.
Your best bet is by bus, with outlets like Premier Motor Service and Greyhound Coaches offering decently-priced return fares to the floral city. Concession discounts are available, so if you're a backpacker or a senior's card holder – then you've already saved yourself money before you've even stepped out the front door.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
Most of the events are free; but some exhibitions and fairs have an admission fee. These range from $2 to $10. The Jacaranda Ball and the Children's Party might cost more, and tickets may be limited; so it's best to check the Jacaranda Festival website where you can contact the particular event organiser for more details.
Obviously if you're travelling from further afield, you'll have to consider extras like petrol, food and accommodation.
The Clarence Tourism website has an in-depth list of various places to stay including their prices. The NRMA also has a handy accommodation feature that's worth browsing through before you go.
WHERE CAN I FIND THE FINER DETAILS?
The official Jacaranda Festival website at www.jacarandafestival.org.au where you'll find everything from the history of the celebration to the contact details of festival organisers.
The Clarence River Tourism website is also a handy reference point and can be found at www.clarencetourism.com, while the Clarence Valley Council site will provide information about Grafton and its surrounds that might be helpful when planning your trip.
So why wait? Get into the floral spirit and head to Grafton to enjoy the Jacaranda Festival celebrations from October 24 until November 2.