More than 70 cultural communities are expected to come together on Sunday (5 March) for a day of food, dance and learning as the 16th annual Queanbeyan Multicultural Festival comes to town.
Entry to the festival is free, with guests being treated to more than 20 unique performances as well as market and food stalls, dance workshops, kids and sporting activities, and live music.
Queanbeyan Multicultural Centre regional managing director Zakia Patel said the festival was personal for her, having grown up in Queanbeyan with a multicultural background.
“There’s people from over 70 different cultural communities in Queanbeyan, and coming together in this way is such a great way to highlight them and celebrate the diversity we have,” she said.
“But also to celebrate the contributions that they all make. They work and live in Queanbeyan and they make a contribution to that community.”
Live performances include traditional Colombian, Chilean and Chinese Lion dancing but Ms Patel is most excited for a group of Pacific Islander students.
“We worked with them in their schools last year around cultural identity and a big part of it was them showcasing their culture,” she said.
“They now get the opportunity to come and do that in the broader community and I’m so excited.
“I’m so proud to see how far this group has come over the last 12 months.”
The students are performing at 2:15 pm on the fringe stage.
Ms Patel said another personal highlight was the food.
“I go on an empty stomach and I pretty much eat the whole day,” she said.
“You can try so many different cultural foods.”
Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council Mayor Kenrick Winchester, whose council organises the festival in partnership with the multicultural centre, also singled out the food.
“Each year the festival has such a warm community atmosphere and delicious food,” he said.
“It’s great to be able to connect with people from different cultural backgrounds through traditional dance and food.
“This event is a great opportunity to learn about and appreciate our diverse community.”
The festival kicks off at 10 am on Sunday, with ACT Emergency Services Agency on the main stage and ANU Chinese Classical Music Ensemble on the fringe stage.
Performances are scheduled throughout the day until the festival ends at 4 pm, with an Afro Zumba finale featuring all groups on the main stage at 3:45 pm.
A full event program, map and parking instructions are available on council’s website. The festival is being held in Queanbeyan Park, 1 Lowe St, Queanbeyan.
Two more multicultural festivals are upcoming in NSW, in the Bega Valley (18 March) and Cooma (19 March).