News & Events

World comes to The Square to close out Festival of Cultures

Friday February 28 2020

A massive Square-wide celebration will bring Palmerston North Festival of Cultures 2020 to a close on Saturday 7 March. World Fair Day will officially open at 10.30am, bringing a cultural fiesta of music, food, crafts and activities.

Palmerston North City Council Event Manager – Festival and Cultural Events Luke McIndoe says Council is proud of what the Festival of Cultures brings to the city and how it helps build its reputation as being connected, creative and exciting. Last year’s event won a Local Government Excellence Award for Social Well-being.

The World Fair Day is the culmination of a week that celebrates the city’s diversity, bringing people together for a cultural culinary and performance tasting platter, McIndoe says.

A headline act is Colombian salsa band C-26. Band leader Anayibi Loboa Liñan says the Wellington group of seven has performed at venues around the capital, including the CubaDupa festival, as well as festivals in Auckland, including Music in the Park. “We are so excited to be a part of the World Fair and seeing the other performers from a wide variety of cultures and musical genres – and sampling some delicious food!”

The group’s energetic performing represents its Latino members’ culture as well as a jazz influence from its Kiwi members. “We are a great mix … jazz and salsa are closely related through their shared African roots,” Anayibi says.

“I grew up in Cali-Colombia, one of the main centres of salsa in the world, listening to my father’s salsa selection and this is what we bring to our followers. Really nice lyrics most of them from Puerto Rico and Cuba and some new originals made here in New Zealand with a Cuban and Colombian flavour.”

Anayibi, who sings in Spanish, says one of the defining features of Salsa is that inspires people to dance. “Don't worry if you don’t know how to salsa dance … if you feel like moving any dance style will work.” During instrumentals, Anayibi has been known to come off stage and teach the crowd some salsa moves.

Among local performers is the Manawatu Russian Dance Group. Choreographer director Dr Tania Kopytko, who has a PhD in Dance Anthropology, says the group of five, from Palmerston North and Bulls, comes together to perform at festivals and by invitation.

“This current group performed for Festival of Cultures for the first time last year, and we are preparing a new medley performance for this year. The festival allows us the opportunity to share the richness and variety of Russian culture in a big public arena.”

All the women, except Tania, were born in the Russian Republic. Tania’s father is Belarusian and her mother a New Zealander, so she was brought up in both cultures. “I learned the traditional dance forms from my father and then later I also studied them … the dance forms and basic steps of Russian and Belarusian dance are similar, especially when prepared for the stage.”

The medley of two dances begins with a graceful gliding dance. The dancers wear long Sarafan dresses and flowers in their hair. “This is a summer themed dance about a girl who goes down to the river to fetch water and meets a boy, performed to a beautiful version of a traditional song.” The second dance will be a contemporary take on Russian rhythm dance using no music. “You might describe it as Russian dance meets Riverdance! Our costuming will be contemporary traditional. This will be something very special to look out for.”

Tania says she is also looking forward to sampling the cuisine on offer (particular the Polish kopytka, or dumplings, that share her name) and seeing the “fascinating and inspiring” performances.

Photo shows young women in traditional dress and flower garlands dancing with outstretched arms.

The Manawatū Russian Dance Group will perform a medley of dances.

Other performances include the:

  • Manawatū Multicultural Society Performance
  • Te Piringa Kapa Haka Group
  • Manawatū Bangalee Society
  • Focus Youth
  • Heavey Blarney
  • Avatone
  • Mazika Dum
  • Raz Judah and the Cultural Embassy Band
  • IPU Kodama Drum Group
  • Karen Society
  • Le Masina o Samoa
  • Chinese Cultural Centre
  • Fijian Community
  • Sri Lankan Cultural Performance
  • Japanese Nihon Buyo Dance
  • Shed 23 Chorus
  • Bhutanese Society
  • IPU Soran Dance
  • Pamanlahi Cultural Ensemble
  • Caitlin School of Traditional Irish Dance
  • Ex Nihilo band

To see more about the Festival of Cultures, go to