ACT News


National Multicultural Festival begins with Malaysian ceremonies

Canberra's multicultural festival began early on Friday when the Malaysian High Commissioner met with ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr to promote tourism.

The multicultural festival, known colloquially by many as the "meat-on-a-stick" weekend, is expected to bring more than 270,000 people to Garema Place by Sunday evening.

For the Malaysian government it is also a chance to introduce Canberrans to their cuisine and culture, and maybe  entice them on a holiday.

High Commissioner Zainal Abidin Bin Ahmad said the festival was the perfect way to sample hawker-style street food, batik-making demonstrations, dance performances and Malaysian music.

This weekend marks the 20th multicultural festival in Canberra, with organisers promising a special occasion with more than 40 tonnes of food on offer.

Multicultural Affairs Minister Yvette Berry said there would be more than 400 stalls representing more than 170 nationalities.


The weekend will boast 350 performance groups and 2500 performers. A total of 7.5 kilometres of bunting has already been put up  throughout the city to herald the event.

The festival had its origins in the mid-1970s but the first national festival officially began in 1996. It is estimated last year's event injected $7.8 million into the ACT economy.

Detective Acting Superintendent Jason Kennedy said the festival was a good opportunity for the force to build relationships with the multicultural community.

"ACT Policing's community safety unit has dedicated multicultural liaison officers whose role is to help forge constructive relationships with people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds," he said.

"Relationships such as these break down barriers which sometimes emerge when people migrate to Australia from those countries where police may be feared."

Weather conditions should also be favourable with a top of 34 degrees and sunny conditions forecast for Saturday, although there is a chance of showers on Sunday.