The success of the National Multicultural Festival proves Canberrans do want to go out in Civic and could be used as a model to help bring more life to the city centre, Multicultural Affairs minister Yvette Berry says.
About 280,000 people flocked to Civic to take in the sights, smells, sounds and – most importantly – the tastes of 170 nationalities in the festival's 20th year.
Attendance was up about 10,000 on the previous year with significant jumps on Friday and Saturday.
While the hot but "perfect" weather was one drawcard, Ms Berry said the secret to the festival's success was word of mouth and the positive vibes from celebrating identity.
"You get to experience so much amazing food and all the great performances, it's almost like you don't need to go overseas, you get that experience in Canberra over three days," she said.
Ms Berry said the economic benefit from the 2015 festival was about $7.5 million and she expected this year's to be higher.
"I've been told the ATMs ran out of money … which is a good sign for an economic boost."
She said the Indian community and Canberra CBD Limited capitalised on the multicultural festival's popularity with a miniature spinoff, the two-day World Curry Festival last winter to be repeated this year.
"It proves we can actually get people out into the city in the middle of winter … but it's also a great space and we should be utilising it," she said.
"A little bit of innovation never hurts … people have some great ideas … we can find all sorts of different ways to celebrate in the city, I don't think it has to be that complicated."
The festival's expanded footprint paid off, Ms Berry said, with stallholders from more than 400 stalls and 4000 volunteers all trying different things to encourage interactivity with the crowds.
But with so much to see, do and eat, like many festival-goers Ms Berry said she was looking forward to next year's festival to catch up on the things she missed.
"I always say 'next year I have to come back to that stall because I missed it last time'."