Multicultural Month kicks off in Cairns

Published: 6th August 2021

A month-long celebration of multiculturalism is kicking off in Cairns this weekend to celebrate the region's diversity.

From Indonesia to Croatia, and Haiti to Japan, Cairns will be celebrating its many cultures with a host of festivals, story times and exhibitions during August for Multicultural Month.

The Indonesian Festival will kick off celebrations this weekend with a day of dance, food and diversity on the Western Lawn of the Esplanade on Saturday (7 August).

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In coming weeks, the Cairns Hindu Samaj, Japanese Society of Cairns and the Cairns Multicultural Association will also host festivals at a variety of locations throughout the city.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said Council was pleased to support the diverse communities and cultural associations to help share their traditions, customs, food and dance.

“Cairns truly is a multicultural place where our many cultures add so much to our community,” Cr Manning said.

“Just one third of Cairns people list their ancestry as ‘Australian’ with the remainder of residents tracing their immediate ancestry to more than 120 different nations.

“We speak 72 different languages in our homes and around a fifth of people in our community were born overseas.

“In fact, later this month we will have the biggest citizenship ceremony we have ever hosted, with 340 people from 39 different nationalities to become citizens at the Cairns Performing Arts Centre on 24 August.”

Indonesian Festival 2021 organiser Liana Hitchcock said tomorrow’s festival-goers could expect amazing food and diverse entertainment at the festival.

“Indonesia itself is a multi-cultural, mutli-language, multi-religion country and our 200-plus Cairns Australian-Indonesians come from all over,” Ms Hitchcock said.

“The festival gives us a chance to share our culture and to keep connections strong for Indonesian Australians.

“We also see many Australians at the festival who have lived in or visited Indonesia and enjoy experiencing the culture and the food again in Cairns.”

Councillor Cathy Zeiger said this year, Multicultural Month gave residents the chance to experience overseas cultures at time when travel abroad was prohibited.  

“Without being able to leave the country, our multicultural communities are bringing the world to Cairns for everyone to experience,” she said.

“Council recently committed to the Welcoming Cities program and events like these are a practical step towards further embracing diversity, fostering social cohesion and enhancing our region’s multicultural focus.”

Cairns Libraries and art galleries are also running a diverse and international program of activities throughout the month in collaboration with storytellers, artists and speakers from all corners of Australia and the globe.

The Cairns libraries Multicultural Month program includes First Five Forever Storytimes at several libraries featuring guest speakers from around the world, along with Conversations in the Library and Book Clubs featuring authors and books with stories from around the world.

Highlights of Multicultural Month 

  • Indonesian Festival 2021 on Saturday 7 August from 10am on the Western lawn of the Cairns Esplanade
  • CARMA Youth Peace Finale and CARMA Multicultural Festival on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 August at Fogarty Park
  • Ganesh Ustav Festival on Saturday 11 September at Edge Hill State School from 9am
  • Japanese Bon Dance Festival on Saturday September 11 from 12 noon on the Western Lawn of Cairns Esplanade
  • Conversations with Cairns Libraries at Smithfield Library with local author Debra Gavranich with the migrant story of her Croatian mother (Wednesday 18 August), and at Hambledon House (Tuesday 31 August) with South Side storyteller, Aquilar Luki, speaking about his migration to Australia from a tiny Polynesian island (partnership with Mission Australia).
  • Torres Straight Enlightenment 150th Anniversary exhibition at Bulmba-ja Arts Centre until 28 August.