Canberra’s multicultural festival started out on a very small scale in 1980 and is now a major annual event with hundreds of stalls (420 for 2013), half a dozen or more performance stages, buskers and side events all over the city centre. The festival incorporate Chinese New Year festivities, the Greek Glendi, a Turkish Bazaar, India in the City and so many other elements which could easily stand as separate events on their own.
Visiting really is like travelling around the world with country stalls grouped in regions so you move from country to country and from region to region and continent to continent (no representation from Antarctica but everyone else was there!!) as you move from street to street. The emphasis is on food and culture and I certainly recommend you go with an empty stomach. Dance, song and other cultures performances are ongoing and the event attracts acts from around the world though the festival remains a decidedly Canberra event which shows, and proves, what a multicultural place Canberra is.
It never ceases to amaze me how all nationalities have so fully assimilated in Canberra yet maintain and share their own national identities. The whole event is a great sharing of culturally diverse traditions though food, exhibitions, dances, concerts and other performances.
Also this is a fantastic place to get ideas for your next trip (brochures and information are readily available) on most country stalls.
While a schedule of performances/ events is published I prefer to just wander around pick up national food/snacks/drinks and sit down (if I can find a seat) and watch whatever takes my fancy. This year (2013) I was particularly enamoured by an Argentinean Gaucho drumming act. The South American and Middle East displays were particularly appealing though everyone does a great job.
This nice thing about this festival is that as it is essentially put on by the embassies, local clubs and government it is not commercially orientated thought I did note the very unwelcome (for me) attendance of two or three commercial outfits.
Be aware that this event is very popular and attracts well over a quarter million people over two and a half days – not bad for a City with a population of just over 350,000. This is Canberra’s annual party – a food, dance and entertainment spectacular.
The event (held around February each year) runs from mid-day on a Friday till 5pm on Sunday (around midnight on Friday and Saturday nights). To cover everything you need to visit more than once.
Admission cost – Everything is free though naturally you pay for food and drink (outside the free samples you can pick up).
Address: City Centre – all over