About Grafton Jacaranda Festival
The world-renowned Jacaranda Festival is held annually in Grafton, Northern Rivers New South Wales, from the last weekend in October to the first weekend in November.
Inaugurated in 1934, this was the first of Australia’s folk festivals and celebrates the magnificent spectacle of the hundreds of lilac-blossomed trees that grow in Grafton’s broad tree lined avenues. Henry Volkers introduced the first Jacaranda trees to Grafton and each year the trees are celebrated, although it has changed over the years to adapt to today’s society, this traditional event is still widely celebrated within the town.
The oldest floral festival still celebrated in Australia, was first appreciated in a much different way. It was one of the few means of entertainment to look forward to. So when Jacaranda time rolled around, the town was in high spirits. Even during the difficult times of WWII, this festival had a way of uplifting the community and giving them something wonderful to celebrate. A half-day public holiday is observed locally on the first Thursday of the latter month, the Festival’s focal day.
The History of Grafton’s Jacaranda Festival
This exceptional chronicle on the history of Grafton’s Jacaranda Festival was published by the Jacaranda Festival Committee and compiled from excerpts from the Daily Examiner from its inception in 1935 until 2008.
The history portrays the early festivals beginning in 1935 when the festival made its debut in a highly-illuminated Jacaranda Avenue which formed the venue for many festivals which followed. Information in the book includes the names of all the children who took part in the early festivals. These children include many of the ancestors of local people as well as many people still living in the Clarence Valley today. Descriptions of the costumes they wore and the traditional and spectacular English dances they performed are brilliantly described.
The account of the first festival is outstanding reading resembling a fairy-tale scene as it describes the resplendent crowning of a little princess embellished in flowers from Jacaranda Avenue accompanied by a pageant of dancing and music on a brilliantly lit stage. Each festival depicted in the book is unique as it includes many photographs capturing the various festival activities and events developed over many years. Photographs and descriptions of festival celebrations include the magnificent efforts made by the shops and business houses, the entertainment they provided for the visitors and the endless efforts they made in decorating their shops for the enjoyment of the crowds. Descriptions of the many floats, most exceeding 100, leaves one spellbound and in awe of the miraculous imagination obviously expended in their preparations for float nights.
The book contains approximately 700 photographs of local people and visitors and names of many local identities who contributed to the success of each festival. Local citizens will find many of their ancestors and relatives included in the book . Staff of local shops and businesses feature prominently, especially on Jacaranda Thursdays and Carnival Capers in South Grafton.
Other photographs include our beautiful Jacaranda Queens, Princesses, attendants., candidates, Matrons of Honour, flower girls & Page Boys, Junior Jacaranda parties and exceptional photographs of crowning’s at most festivals. Also, featuring in the book are well-known guests of honour, guest artists, Festival Presidents and many others.
Themes acted out in the schools displays at each festival provide impressive reading where hundreds of children from local and neighbouring schools brought so much vivacity in capturing the many local industries, seasons and life in the Clarence Valley and providing spectators with scenes almost lifelike. Many photographs show the exceptional, clever and imaginative displays by the hundreds of children.
The history of the festival as the year’s progress and the cultural changes which take place to accommodate social change and the development of today’s technology makes interesting reading as the pretty maypoles, community singing, jazz bands, symphony orchestra and sacred concerts are replaced by other activities.
The History of Grafton’s Jacaranda Festival is compelling reading for all ages to read and has immortalized the history of Australia’s most famous floral festival.
Gold Cup Honour Roll
The Gold Cup Honour Roll lists of all the businesses that have won the Prestigious Gold Cup at our Jacaranda Thursday Business Competitions. Click below to take a walk back through time.