Central Victoria prepares for 2017 Bendigo Festival of Cultures

Saturday marks the start of a week-long celebration of our community’s cultural diversity. 

As our population grows, so too does the tapestry of tastes and traditions that enriches our lives.

Showcasing art, music, language, dance, dining and discussion, the Bendigo Festival of Cultures is inspired by the idea that diversity is the mainstream.

Variety the spice of life in our region

A Latin dance carnivale. A birthday celebration for a deity. Creating songbirds to flutter about the ceiling of the Bendigo Library, and unique flags that reflect harmony in the community.

That’s just the lineup for the first weekend of the 2017 Bendigo Festival of Cultures.

From Saturday until March 26, both the region and the state will be celebrating cultural diversity. 

Coinciding with Cultural Diversity Week, the festival in Bendigo has been a highlight of the central Victorian social calendar for more than 15 years. 

The program features concerts, cuisine, cultural performances, forums and workshops and events range from a Bollywood Extravaganza to Afghan New Year.

Bendigo Sri Lankan Fellowship Association president Deeptha Wickramaratna said the Festival of Cultures was a special time.

“It is an opportunity for us to showcase our culture to the rest of Bendigo, and to be proud of who we are,” he said. 

For the first time, members of the association’s recently formed dance school will be performing in Harmony Day celebrations on March 21. 

In addition to dancing, the free public event from 11.30am to 2.30pm at Hargreaves Mall will feature music and workshops. 

“We are delighted, and so excited, to have our children dancing our traditional dances and then to be able to share this with the community,” Mr Wickramaratna said.

The festival culminates in a free family fun day in Rosalind Park, from 11am to 4pm on March 26.

Festival director and outgoing Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services executive officer Noemi Cummings said the event was an opportunity for culturally diverse groups to give back to the community, and for the community to come together and show that we live in harmony with respect and appreciation for each other.

“Some people might have the impression that Bendigo is not a welcoming city, but many of the communities we work with have had a very positive experience here,” she said.

For more about the festival, visit: www.bendigofestivalofcultures.org.au