National Multicultural Festival 2012; Festival Opens In Canberra, Australia - 10th February 2012
Today the National Multicultural Festival commenced in the nation's capital Canberra, with live music and fine food playing a significent part in the celebration.
More than 200,000 people are going to converge in Canberra's city centre this weekend for the annual celebration of multiculturalism.
The 16th festival features a record 350 stalls representing just about every nation on earth.
There are four stages and three platforms where much of the live entertainment will take place.
Tonight's opening concert starred Australian performing artist Anthony Callea, with Coloured Stone fronted by Bunna Lawrie getting a fantastic reception.
Music News Australia had the pleasure to interview Bunna after his performance and he said much of the meaning was about "hope, peace and a coming together of energies".
The food and dance spectacular on Saturday and Sunday will include an Indigenous showcase, Carnivale, Turkish bazaar, Greek glendi, Indian display and Chinese New Year celebrations.
Festival project manager Jancye Winter advised in excess of 300 groups and 70 diplomatic missions are involved.
"When you bring food and dance together, you find all of the community works very hard together. We see this particularly at this time of the year, that all of the community groups are working very cooperatively together," she said.
"By going around the stalls you will see the real diversity of all of the cultures here. It's a true celebration of Canberra's diversity."
Ms Winter says many of the visitors and entertainers travel from interstate and overseas.
"The festival brings in so many visitors and has an impact across not only accommodation but many of the tourist outlets, and indeed the shops in Civic enjoy a boost in retail because we bring people right into the heart of the city centre," she said.
Festival ambassador Wolfgang Blass immigrated to Australia from Germany in the 1960s, establishing the well-known Wolf Blass winery in South Australia's Barossa Valley.
He says the festival helps bring different sections of the communities together.
"We have to live together, we have to learn to live together and this multicultural event is going to bring people together," he said.
"Let's hope we all, in a united way, have a good time and enjoy the food that each culture is going to present."
Mr Blass says Australia is a lucky country that has come a long way.
"We are now a society entering a leisurely lifestyle," he said.
"Politically we don't have any big problems. There is no unrest in this country. We have a very strong sporting mind and it is important that we are free and have a strong democracy."
Mr Blass also emphasised that it was "time to party", and started that "Canberra really knows how to put on a party".
Mr Blass also shared the stage with Joy Burch MLA ACT Minister for Multicultural Affairs.
So far the festival looks to have been a wonderful success.
Multicultural Festival 2012
Australian Capital Territory Government Information Portal
Eva Rinaldi Photography Flickr
Eva Rinaldi Photography