Multicultural Festival aims to go ‘next level’

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When it comes to the numbers, entertainment at this week’s festival looks like this: 2000 performers from a range of cultural groups, 200 separate performances; 100 volunteers assisting with everything from stage managing to MCing; six stages packed across three days; two headliners (Aussie songstress Christine Anu and 2017 Eurovision contestant Isaiah Firebrace); and one giant parade on Saturday afternoon.

A native Colombian, festival entertainment manager Julian Bahamon said punters could "expect some heat" at the festival's Latin Quarter.

A native Colombian, festival entertainment manager Julian Bahamon said punters could “expect some heat” at the festival’s Latin Quarter.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

“We’ve really invested a lot in entertainment this year,” Bahamon said.

“In terms of the quality of the stages and audio, and in terms of the quality of artists that we’re bringing, we’ve really taken it to the next level.

“Thats what’s so exciting this year – not only are you going to have a plate of delicious food in front of you but you’re also going to have brilliant entertainment.”

With more than 2000 performers coverging on Civic for the event parade on Saturday, dressing rooms have been a big part of the entertainment infrastructure.

Belly dancers Yukon Okayama, Victoria Leader, Fran Gray, Brooke Thomas and Danika Bertoz prepare for the 2019 National Multicultural Festival.

Belly dancers Yukon Okayama, Victoria Leader, Fran Gray, Brooke Thomas and Danika Bertoz prepare for the 2019 National Multicultural Festival. Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

“We do have many many people getting changed into traditional dress on location,” Bahamon said.

“And some, of course, want to change again and hang around after they’ve performed.

“I mean, the rest of Canberra is in Civic, of course you want to hang around!”

Entertainment during the day will be “more chill”, Bahamon said, with the energy of performances ramping up in the evening.

Minister for Multicultural Affairs Chris Steel said Canberrans should start planning transport to the three-day festival now.

Polish dance troupe Wielkopolska will perform at the event.

Polish dance troupe Wielkopolska will perform at the event.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

“We’re expecting tens of thousands of people to come through,” he said.

“Special Multicultural Festival buses will be running to get people to Civic but I certainly encourage people to plan ahead because there are going to be a huge number of people here in the city.”

Now in its 23rd year, the 2019 festival will host 339 stalls, including 145 embassy stalls. The ACT Government has allocated just short of $2 million to ensure the future of the event, right up to a huge 25th anniversary festival in 2021.

The 2019 National Multicultural Festival, 15-17 February, Civic. Free for all ages. Stall, entertainment and bus information at www.multiculturalfestival.com.au

Bree Element is the life and entertainment editor at The Canberra Times

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