More than 200000 people expected at National Multicultural Festival

Canberra’s Multicultural Festival is expected to draw more than 200,000 people to its city centre for three days of colour, culture and entertainment.

The National Multicultural Festival begins on Friday evening, 15 February, with a performance by singer Christine Anu.

“This year our three headliners all happen to be Indigenous,” festival director Azra Khan told SBS News on Thursday.

“We are excited to have such fabulous talent.”

Christine Anu

Christine Anu is one of the festival headliners.

NITV News

Established in 1996, the festival aims to celebrate diversity and promote equal opportunity and inclusion. This year’s will include over 350 community groups and over 300 stalls providing information, cultural displays and food from around the world.

“It is important to embrace diversity in our community,” Ms Khan said.

“The festival is an example of how we can celebrate that. We’re not going back to a monoculture anytime soon.”

Parades and poetry

New to the festival this year is the Mother Tongue-Multilingual Poetry event, a presentation of spoken poetry in a range of languages.

“We will have poets share their own work in different languages including French, German, Hindi and Burmese,” said Ms Khan.

Other major acts include The X Factor winner Isaiah Firebrace and former contestant from The Voice America, Michel Zaib.

There will also be performances by Pacific Islander and Polish dance groups, the Chinese New Year Showcase and a Moroccan fashion show, as well as activities for children including cooking classes with Indigenous celebrity chef Mark Olive using bush foods.

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More than 2000 performers are expected to take part in the festival’s parade which will begin at 4pm on Saturday near Glebe Park which will include musicians, cultural performances, and brightly coloured floats. 

The festival comes following a contentious debate in federal parliament surrounding immigration following the passing of the refugee medical transfer bill.

ACT Minister for Multicultural Affairs Chris Steel said the festival is a chance to celebrate Canberra’s cultural life and community.

“We want the festival to be better every year and to retain the deep connections to our local grassroots community and multicultural groups,” he said.

“With food, live music, dancing and entertainment from every corner of the world, we expect tens of thousands of people will converge on Canberra’s city centre each day over the three days.”

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Australia's multiculturalism has had an impact on how we speak and on how the English language has evolved.