Bloom! festival to mark 250th anniversary of the Ancient Society of York Florists in 2018

Winter frost on flowers at York Museum Gardens

Winter frost on flowers at York Museum Gardens - Credit: Archant

Festival planned to celebrate city’s floristry heritage

Flowers in the rockery at York Museum Gardens

Flowers in the rockery at York Museum Gardens - Credit: Archant

The 250th anniversary of the Ancient Society of York Florists, thought to be the oldest society of its kind in the world, is to be celebrated with a new festival next year. Bloom! is a new four-day festival taking place from July 5th-8th, with events planned across the city. The Ancient Society of York Florists has records dating back to 1768, when the society was founded.

John Galvin, secretary of the Ancient Society of York Florists, said Bloom! will recognise and showcase the rich heritage of horticulture in York. He added: ‘Our annual July show will be held for the first time in Parliament Street, showcasing plants and flowers grown by Yorkshire enthusiasts. This will be a brilliant opportunity to tell people about our history, which no other society in the world can match.’

Lotte Inch, festival curator, said the event will be for everyone to enjoy including young and old, for those who love gardening or those ‘who can’t keep a cactus alive and wish they could’. Steve Brown, managing director, Make It York, said they are co-ordinating this new event with partners across the city.

He added: ‘York will become a riot of colour with a series of large-scale, show-stopping installations, smaller floral displays, window dressing competitions, beer garden makeovers and hidden garden open days. We’re keen to hear from anyone interested in helping us to showcase York’s horticultural credentials next year.’

He said Lotte will be working with residents and businesses in and around York. ‘There’s such a wealth of skills, creative minds, specialist knowledge, gardening teams and horticultural businesses here and we want to involve as many as possible.

‘It will be a festival our city can be proud of,’ said Mr Brown.

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The festival is a partnership project between Make It York and York BID, the BID having provided initial funding for a festival curator. Parks such as York Museum Gardens and West Bank, the city’s leading hotels have already signed up to take part.

Numerous allotment societies and gardening groups such as Edible York will also host activities and marquees will be put up for workshops, talks and demonstrations from industry professionals.

Other planned events already include story-telling sessions, afternoon tea with a floral twist, garden-themed film screenings and children’s gardening workshops. The festival will also see several projects remaining in situ far beyond the four days.

Organisations already supporting the festival include: Askham Bryan College,

Castle Howard, English Heritage, York Minster, York’s hotels, restaurants and bars, Shambles Market, York Minster, city of York council, York Museum’s Trust, York Civic Trust, universities and colleges, The Fifth Quarter (Bootham and Gillygate Traders Association), Indie York, the Harrogate Flower Festival, the North of England Horticultural Society, York City Centre Churches, the Great Yorkshire Fringe and the York Mediale.

Andrew Lowson, director, York BID, said: ‘Bloom! is exciting and it is right and proper we celebrate York as having the oldest horticultural society in the world! We’re committed to helping to enhance floral displays and we plan on using Bloom! to kickstart an initiative that will leave a legacy in the city.’

Anyone interested in getting involved with the festival should contact Lotte Inch by emailing her at