The National Multicultural Festival is held every February in Canberra's city centre - see here for when it's on this year. The program for the festival is so big that it is held over a jam-packed weekend, to fit in all the cultural performances and so that visitors can experience the range of international flavours from the food stalls that line the streets. The festival began in 1996 and now, 24 years later, it is one of the biggest events on the Canberra calendar.
The city centre comes to life with the strong beat of cultural music, while the delicious smells and BBQ smoke from all the sizzling food stalls all combine as one in the sky. It is the perfect celebration of multi-cultural Australia - for us to learn about each other's cultures, appreciate their food and dance to their song. These are our top 3 reasons to go to the festival, however, I'm sure you will find your own. Take your appetite and dancing shoes - you'll need them!
Witness the colourful spectacular! Image: National Multicultural Festival Facebook
When you first arrive, take a walk along the streets and check out the wide range of delicacies to eat, before you decide on where to begin. You will find hot and spicy Malaysian curries, Samoan coconut drinks, Egyptian cakes, Belgium waffles, Indian savouries - and everything in between. There are over 300 stalls each year - so you have a big choice! You can pick up something from Europe for lunch, a snack from an African nation for afternoon tea, a drink from an Asian country and then a Middle Eastern cuisine for dinner. Make sure you save room for dessert! See here for the list, when advertised.
Try something new and meet the stall holders! Image: National Multicultural Festival Facebook
Each year there are six stages set up throughout the city, with a whole weekend of back-to-back music on the program, day and night. Watch dancers from Zimbabwe, Bollywood dancers from India, traditional Chinese dancing and much more. As day turns into night, these stage areas become a party within the city - for all ages and cultures to dance together. See here for the musical program and plan your day to ensure you see your favourite acts.
Another musical and visual highlight of the festival is the annual parade of countries on the Saturday, with marching bands, spectacular costumes, drums and floats! The parade keeps getting bigger each year, with the 2020 Parade expecting over 2,000 performers! Don't miss it! See here for details.
Watch cultural performances on six stages across the city centre. Image: National Multicultural Festival Facebook
In previous years, over 200,000 people have descended on the city over the whole weekend to enjoy the shows, food, entertainment, music and parades. Expect there to be crowds, but also expect there to be a lively atmosphere! People of all ages can be seen busting into dance moves, clapping their hands, tapping their feet, calling out for "more" and erupting into spontaneous singalongs! The combination of the sounds and smells as you walk along, day and night, is an atmosphere like no other in the city centre. Expect to stay for hours to enjoy it.
If you have kids, the constant stream of people and loud music can become overwhelming however, so there is a Children's Sanctuary for them to have some quiet time - adults too!
Prepare yourself for the crowds and an electric atmosphere! Image: National Multicultural Festival Facebook
Another highlight of the festival is the army of volunteers who give up their time to make the festival a success. From helping set up the stages to customer service and directions, they give their all to this successful event. If you would like to be a volunteer and be part of the weekend, see here for details.
The National Multicultural Festival is a celebration of the diversity within Canberra. We all live, work or study with people from all over the world, and it is this cultural exchange that makes living in Canberra so rewarding. These are just 3 reasons to go to the festival, however, watch this You Tube clip below, from the ACT Government, to really give you the incentive to go.