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The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times

Countdown is on for this year's National Multicultural Festival

The National Multicultural Festival returns to Canberra in two weeks. Picture by Elesa Kurtz

Get the countdown started, Canberra. The National Multicultural Festival is just two weeks away.

The much-loved Canberra event - which has been cancelled for the past two years due to COVID - will return to the capital from February 17 to 19, for its 25th anniversary.

"This summer we've seen the appetite Canberrans have for returning to the events they know and love and the buzz from the community around the festival is at an all-time high," Minister for Multicultural Affairs Tara Cheyne said.

"The layout for this year's festival has been carefully designed to minimise congestion around the stalls and stages, especially along City Walk. City Walk's permanent plantings now make it an ideal place to relax and enjoy cooking demonstrations.

"We will have eight stages across the festival so no matter when you attend, or where you are, you'll find a heap of entertainment, culture, food and fun. Beautiful Glebe Park is also part of the festival this year - a perfect place to sit and snack on your culinary delights, enjoy great cultural entertainment and participate in workshops. It's also where the parade will end on Saturday afternoon."

The 2020 National Multicultural Festival parade. Picture by Elesa Kurtz

This year's headliners include Mitch Tambo, Lisa Hunt, Parvyn, Justine Clarke, James Morrison and Jay Laga'aia, who will all be supported by a diverse group of artists from around the world.

This includes East Timorese reggae/ska favourites Dili Allstars, Tibetan singer and multi-instrumentalist Tenzin Choegyal collaborating with the Phoenix Collective, the German musical and comedy group The Beez, renowned contemporary South Sudanese singer Ajak Kwai and a whole lot more.

"Timorese people have used music as a vehicle for their Independence and through music we showcase our identity and different rhythms," Paulo Almeida singer in Dili All Stars singer Paulo Almeida said.

"We have a rich culture, and our most famous dance is the Tebedai dance which is a circle dance performed throughout Timor Leste and it is accompanied by traditional drumming.

"Performing at a festival like the National Multicultural Festival gives us a chance to showcase our music and culture and learn about all other cultures that are also part of the festival. It might also open doors to collaborations and other connections."

Polish dance group Wielkopolska at the 2019 National Multicultural Fesitval. Picture by Dion Georgopoulos

For the first time, the festival will include hands on workshops to allow communities to share their cultural heritage through dance, art, and language.

The festival will feature 35 workshops across the weekend, including how to wear an Indian sari or Korean hanbok, kung fu, calligraphy and bush dancing classes, learning Tongan greetings and how to write in the Ancient Egyptian Coptic alphabet. Workshops are free, available on a first come basis, and are not ticketed.

Another first for the anniversary year will be a dedicated cooking demonstration program at the City Walk stage across all three days. This stage will feature over 15 community and professional chefs sharing the stories and techniques behind cultural dishes from Taiwan to Assyria, Peru to Thailand.

With roadworks in the city and road closures in place for the festival, Canberrans are reminded to rethink their routine when travelling to the festival and in and around the city in the days leading up to, and over the festival weekend. There will be free dedicated shuttle buses running over the festival weekend and additional public transport services.

For the full program of performers, stalls and workshops, the festival map, and important information about road closures and shuttles buses, go to

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