Bendigo's cultural diversity will be on show when the second annual Zinda Festival begins this weekend.
Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services (LCMS) executive officer Kate McInnes said the event was an opportunity for people of migrant and refugee backgrounds to showcase their culture, music, dance and food.
"It's also for everyone in Bendigo to have the opportunity to celebrate cultural diversity and to enjoy and be part of those refugee and migrant communities," she said.
The festival was launched on Thursday with a Cushion Concert for preschool children at The Capital Theatre, where performer Jali Buba played the traditional Kora to the delighted kids.
"One thing we really want to do with the Zinda Festival is have opportunities for people of all ages and all backgrounds to enjoy multiculturalism and engage with people from different cultures," Ms McInnes said.
Those cultures will be featured at the Night in the Park event on Saturday from 5pm-9pm at Rosalind Park.
There will food trucks and kids activities, as well as dance and music from around the world.
The organisation's new social enterprise Friday Food Safari will also help cater the event.
LCMS board member Moustafa Al-Rawi fled Iraq as a refugee in 1990. He and his family moved to other countries before settling in Bendigo about 19 years ago.
Mr Al-Rawi said the Zinda Festival celebrated the best of the diverse community.
"Bendigo's demographic has changed significantly in the last ten years where we're having a lot more people from multicultural communities choosing Bendigo to be their home.
"I think one of the great things about the Zinda Festival is that it's an opportunity for these communities to celebrate their culture but also to share their culture with the rest of the community.
"Last year was a highlight for me when I saw people from Bendigo, fourth and fifth generations, dancing to Iraqi music and enjoying our food."
Mr Al-Rawi said the event was about celebrating inclusion.
"Children and young people from a multicultural background were able to feel proud of their heritage because they saw others in the wider community also celebrating their heritage and their culture.
"I think that gives them that feeling of belonging and it's a great feeling to give that to young people."
The Zinda Festival runs from March 16-22. To find out more about the program, check out here.
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