Here's all you need to know about 2019 National Multicultural Festival
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Here's all you need to know about 2019 National Multicultural Festival

With more than 200,000 people expected to work their way through the city, taking in the sights, sounds and flavours of the Multicultural Festival this weekend, it pays to be prepared.

Zalie Guyes, 3, at the National Multicultural Festival in 2016.

Zalie Guyes, 3, at the National Multicultural Festival in 2016.Credit:Jay Cronan

There are more than 300 stalls packed in the city centre between Akuna Street and East Row, so knowing where to start, how to get there and what to eat ahead of time will mean more time to enjoy one of the biggest festivals on the Canberra calendar.

Here's everything you need to know in one handy guide.

When's it on?

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Opening act: Christine Anu.

Opening act: Christine Anu.

The festivals kicks off on the afternoon of Friday, February 15, with headline act Christine Anu taking to the Garema Place stage at 7.30pm after the official opening at 7pm.

But there'll be plenty to see, eat and drink from 3pm on Friday.

Saturday, February 16, is the festival's biggest day, when entertainment will run well into the night. All the action will kick off from 10am.

The festival wraps up for another year on Sunday, February 17 at 5pm.

What is there to see?

Entertainment

The Australian Chinese Culture exchange association dancers perform at the Multicultural festival.

The Australian Chinese Culture exchange association dancers perform at the Multicultural festival.Credit:Jay Cronan

There are 150 acts on six stages across the festival weekend, including showcases from the United States, India, China, Greece, Africa, the Pacific, Celtic culture, the Latin countries and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

On Friday night, award-winning Indigenous performer Christine Anu takes to the main stage in Garema Place at 7.30pm.

Isaiah Firebrace will perform two shows on Saturday night. The first kicks off at 7.30pm on Stage 2 at Bunda Street. The second is on the Garema Place stage at 9.30pm.

People rest in the shade at the Multicultural Festival.

People rest in the shade at the Multicultural Festival.Credit:Rohan Thomson

But be sure to stick around into the evening when former The Voice America contestant Michel Zaib closes out the United States showcase in Garema Place.

Saturday is the busiest day of entertainment. Early in the afternoon, you can catch Amira Medunjanin at 1pm, a popular singer from Bosnia and Herzegovina and interpreter of sevdalinka. Festival organisers have said it's a performance not to be missed.

At 4pm on Saturday, the festival parade will bring even more colour, sound and movement to the festival.

It begins at the corner of Bunda Street and Akuna Street near Glebe Park and will continue along London Circuit before making its way right into Garema Place.

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You can find full programs for the festival on the Multicultural Festival website.

For the kids

The Children's Sanctuary at Civic Library (Saturday) and the Canberra Museum and Art Gallery (Saturday and Sunday) offers child friendly family fun and cultural activities.

Weaving, painting, drumming and dancing, along with language activities, bilingual story time and more will keep kids entertained away from the hustle and bustle of the main festival.

On Saturday, Indigenous chef Mark Olive will talk to budding young cooks about using bush foods at Civic Library between 3.10pm and 3.30pm.

What should I eat?

There's something for everyone with more than 300 stalls selling food and drinks from every corner of the world.

Sorial Ibraheil of the mercy association making chicken shawarma at the National Multicultural Festival last year.

Sorial Ibraheil of the mercy association making chicken shawarma at the National Multicultural Festival last year.Credit:Jamila Toderas

Look out for Otai, a traditional watermelon drink from Tonga, or perhaps Arayes is more to your taste. It's a grilled Lebanese bread stuffed with beef mince.

But festival organisers have also recommended the Chole Pulao to tickle your taste buds, a chickpea curry served with fried onion flavoured rice and cucumber yoghurt raita.

If you're looking for something to drink, stallholders will be selling culturally relevant alcohol and locally brewed drinks.

Transport

Public Transport

Parking in the city can be tricky at the best of times, so when it's brimming with people for the Multicultural Festival your best option is public transport.

Transport Canberra will run extra buses, including additional 200 and 300 rapid bus services on Saturday and Sunday to get you to and from the festival. Regular fares will apply.

On Friday and Saturday night, a special late night rapid bus service will depart from the City Bus Station every 20 minutes until 2am.

The Red Rapid will take you to Gungahlin, the city and Kingston, while the Blue Rapid will get you home to Belconnen, Woden and Tuggeranong. Passengers who use the late night rapid service could also get a $10 discount on an Uber ride home. Full details are here.

Road Closures

More information about road diversions will be available on the Transport Canberra and City Services website this week.

Weather

The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting a warm but dry weekend, with maximum temperatures around 30 degrees.

Need more information?

You can find a festival map, stall information and set times for all the festival stages on the Multicultural Festival website.

Jasper is a reporter for The Canberra Times.

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