The sestival has been organised by the government of the nation’s capital for 23 years.
This year, the 200,000 people attending consisted of almost half of Canberra and nearby Queanbeyan’s population.
It is undoubtedly the biggest local event, and its continual success is due to various factors: first and foremost one can eat and drink cuisines from every corner of the world; after which, there is uninterrupted entertainment hinged on music and traditional dance from dozens of nations; then, there is a parade of hundreds of figures in lively costume, accompanied by Chinese lions and sounds of the Tamborine and other instruments.
All of which creates a very animated atmosphere and a real abundance of aromas, colours, and irresistible tastes, accompanied by captivating sounds.
Other interesting statistics: there around 250 volunteers, more than 300 community stalls, six stages and 210 shows involving musicians, singers and dancers.
Some of the stages displayed culture specific to areas of the world, including China, India, the Pacific, Africa, Greece, the Latin-American countries, and Asia.
Also this year there was a big effort put in by the numerous ethnic communities of the capital, who were desirous to showcase the culture and traditions of their countries.
This effort was grandly rewarded with the presence of thousands, and it is this specific effort which brought about the enormous success of the festival.
The embassies also participated in the day, promoting their countries on the Saturday.
The European Union occupied one of Canberra’s streets entirely, with stands from all countries, including Italy.
Indigenous Australians also played an important role in the festival.
At the opening concert Torres Strait Islander Christine Anu sang, and a culinary demonstration was made on the main stage by Aboriginal chef Mark Olive.
In regards to the Italian presence, the choir Dante Musica Viva put on a magnificent concert on the main stage, and the renowned and award-winning singer Cosima De Vito entertained the public with her band.
This year, with the collaboration of members and many associations, Com.It.Es. also organised the so-called Piazza Italia, with various stalls selling food and drink, including arancini, gnocchi, pizza, ravioli, gelato and aperitivi such as Aperol Spritz.
President of Com.It.Es. Franco Barilaro (who was available to work at the festival the entire weekend) thanked all the volunteers at the close of the festival, highlighting that “it’s thanks to them that we are able to raise the necessary funds to affront the costs of the Italian Cultural Centre”.
“This year our participation was profitable, and we learnt a lot,” Barilaro affirmed with satisfaction.
“I am certain that next year we can improve even more.”
It is also worth mentioning another show which has been tied to the festival for more than 15 years: Opera by Candlelight, which is organised by pianist-entrepreneur Carl Rafferty, and held at Albert Hall during the evenings of the festival.
Among the numerous songs sung by the young singers and musicians are some of the most famous arias by Italian lyric composers, such as Va pensiero, Aida’s Marcia trionfale and Nessun dorma.
At the closing of the festival, Brian Schmidt, dean of the Australian National University (which organised the parade) gave a stimulating speech.
Schmidt wanted to highlight the importance of the value of multiculturalism both in the capital, as well as internally in the university, which has a high percentage of international students.
The extraordinary success of this latest edition of the festival will undoubtedly repeat itself next year, thanks to the dedication of hundreds of people who are proud of their roots and keen to showcase their cultures and traditions.
Every year there is more, and every year it gets better.