The 2018 Festival of Cultures opened with the Lantern Parade on 17 March, followed by a week of well-attended smaller events at Palmerston North City Library, the Globe Theatre, Te Manawa and Youth Space, and wrapped up with the crowd-pleasing World Food, Music and Craft Fair on 24 March – which this year attracted an estimated 10,000-plus people.
Organisers were happy with the turn-out to events and appreciated the input from the many multicultural communities who set up stalls selling ethnic food, and provided colourful and creative musical and dance performances and activities.
"Witnessing the huge number of people – and families in particular – out in The Square and in our cultural hub enjoying the celebrations made all the months of planning and preparation for the festival all worthwhile,” says PNCC Community Engagement Manager Ian Littleworth.
“There was much celebration and a genuine interest in and appreciation of different cultures and traditions. The crowd were festive, positive and responsive and we are delighted with the feedback. It truly was a great community event.”
This year's Lantern Parade was the most attended yet and boasted a strong line-up of music and entertainment. As well as many large scale lanterns seen in previous years, hand-crafted lanterns also featured. Many were created in the fortnight before the festival, during workshops run by REACT (Rangiwahia Environmental Arts Centre Trust). REACT also created the lead lantern, and this year their theme was the Year of the Dog.
Wellington Balkan-groove band The Kanistas led the parade with their gypsy and brass sounds.
The large crowd at Saturday’s World Food, Music and Craft Fair enjoyed entertainment from cultural performers throughout the day, and a continuous offering of diverse ethnic food options from 100-plus community stalls.
“Stallholders reported it was the busiest festival ever, with record numbers of visitors,” says Mr Littleworth.
Palmerston North City Council funded and organised the event in association with the Manawatu Multicultural Council. The annual festival is one of the city’s longest running community events, having been run since the late 1990s.