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Stallholders at this year's National Multicultural Festival might have still been adding the finishing touches to their tents of sizzling food and colourful goods Friday afternoon but the Golden Sail Dance Company ensured Canberra's annual melting pot of food, beer and music leapt into action with vibrancy.
About 20 young dancers from Beijing's Jinsong No. 4 Elementary School, clad in green and armed with red flags, were the first to take to the stage with an animated performance in celebration of the Chinese New Year.
The troupe is among a variety of performances, including headliners Justice Crew, Z-Star, Sol Nation, the Bombay Royale and Inka Marka, taking to the stage throughout the three-day event.
Up to 250,000 people are expected to converge on the city from Friday to Sunday.
As a crowd gathered to watch the early cultural performances Friday evening many more streamed past lines of stalls for a bite to eat or spot of shopping.
The colourful Iranian stall has featured at the festival the past four years displaying colourful enamel plates, or mina, and golden lanterns.
"We're showing off some handicrafts of Iran," one of the stallholders said. "We're also showing Iran is a land of diverse cultures."
"So many people are coming here and are very impressed. Some people are asking about the sightseeing in Iran as a tourist."
The adjacent Iranian food stall has returned for a second year selling combinations of meat and rice.
The chelo kabab – grilled mince meat, usually lamb, on a stick with rice and tomato – was the most sought-after dish.
Further along Jerrabomberra's Carmen Jereb and daughter Maya, 2, stopped for a break and a bite to eat with Oana Cozma and son Calin, 3, who were visiting from The Netherlands.
Ms Jereb said it was her third festival.
"It's the first time I've been here on a Friday – I appreciate it more than the Saturday," she said.
"There's more space and air to breathe. I liked the Spanish performance last year, maybe we'll come across that again."
Turkish gozleme, Butanese stew and Greek donuts had already been ticked off the list.
Ms Cozma said she was enjoying her first festival.
"It's just beginning. [I'm here] just to enjoy the atmosphere," she said.
Kate Postans and Robbie Gilroy didn't have to travel halfway around the world to check out the action.
"We live just around the corner so it's convenient," Mr Gilroy said. "It's packed here."
Ms Postans, enjoying her second festival, said the couple had already cooled off with a beer and looked forward to tasting an array of cuisine throughout the evening.
"We're here to graze all day," she said.