The National Garden Festivals were a high-profile 1980s initiative by the then Conservative Government in response to criticism of their alleged neglect of areas hit by the decline of heavy industry. Environment Minister Michael Heseltine proposed that derelict land should be reclaimed for a Garden Festival as a symbol of the rebirth of such areas.
The festivals were held every two years. The first such Festival was held in Liverpool in 1984. Subsequent festivals were held in Stoke-on-Trent (1986), Glasgow (1988), Gateshead (1990) and Ebbw Vale Garden Festival (1992) which eventually won the competition.
The festivals were highly successful in attracting millions of visitors from all over the country to industrial areas long ignored by British tourists. However they did not always lead to the hoped-for long-term injection of private investment in the affected areas.