Canberra’s reputation as a tourist destination has been completely revitalised! Gone are the days of Canberra getting slammed for being soulless, for not being gritty enough and for failing to pack a punch from a tourist perspective. #CBR is the new kid on the block for weekend escapes, especially for foodies. If you haven’t experienced the new Canberra, I invite you to. And there is one weekend in particular when Canberra really lets its hair down and dishes up an experience that cannot be missed…
The National Multicultural Festival has been a fixture on the Canberra calendar for 20 years. In fact if you’re a local, you’ll be on such familiar terms that you’ll simply refer to it affectionately as the ‘multi-culti’. We locals have always loved our summer food festival, and the word is now spreading far and wide with more and more people travelling to attend every year.
Basically, the entire cityscape becomes dominated by food, drink, dress, dance, song and rituals from all over the world. And for three days straight, Canberrans party like it’s 1999…and when I say party, what I mean is eat. And we eat while everything else melds together into a delicious blend of noise and colour that makes you feel like you’re anywhere but Australia. But really, for me, it’s all about the food.
Get excited about walking through a haze of authentic South East Asian street food, African curries, Latin grills, European desserts, American BBQ from the deep south and simply follow your nose from stall to stall, for hour upon hour.
I highly recommend scouting out the Nepalese momos, Mexican horchata, Ethiopian curries, Chilean empanadas, Samoan crushed watermelon, German sausages with sauerkraut and the Russian vodka and gherkin combo. Oh, and the selection of world beers is phenomenal. Plus, if you’re really lucky…you might even come across the ‘weapons of mass caramelisation’ otherwise known as alfajores (caramel sandwich cookies from South America) handcrafted by local Peruvians.
If you’ve ever fallen in love with an exotic flavour while off in some far corner of the globe and been sad to think that you’ll probably never taste it again, then Canberra’s National Multicultural Festival is the place to rekindle your love affair. Local families, businesses and embassy representatives painstakingly make thousands upon thousands of their favourite far-flung delicacies to share with the community with the aim of bringing everyone together over a shared love of food. And it works!
This event has the buzz of Asian night markets, the soul of New Orleans jazz clubs and the festivity of Bollywood.
All the basics
Dates: Friday 12 to Sunday 14 February 2016
Time: morning til night (wraps up Sunday arvo)
Where: Garema Place within Canberra’s CBD
Accommodation: Anything in Civic or Braddon will put you within easy walking distance
Dress code: super casual, this is an all day event that is family-friendly and February can be quite warm in Canberra, you’ll see lots of people getting around in casual summer clothes…go for comfort and something with a stretchy waistband
Cost: Entry is free, and most tasty morsels will set you back $4-$12 depending on size
Hot tip: Bring cash, most vendors will have different lines for cash and EFTPOS with the cash lines generally moving more quickly
More info: multiculturalfestival.com.au