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Almost 4,000 members of the Armidale community gathered in Civic park to celebrate diversity and unity at the annual UNE Culture Fest over the weekend.

The festival was a vibrant and colourful showcase of Armidale’s cosmopolitan community with plenty of opportunity to enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of these diverse cultures as well as the chance to meet and chat to some of UNE’s international students and their families.

Last held in 2019, Culture Fest offers the community the chance to share in the culture of UNE’s international students while simultaneously offering a warm Armidale welcome to the students and their families.

First up was an Aboriginal Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country with local Anaiwan man, Bob Blair, performing a traditional dance routine. This was followed by UNE Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Wilmore, Armidale Regional Council mayor Sam Coupland and the Honourable Adam Marshal welcoming the large crowd.

The highlight of the evening was the food stalls, where attendees could sample free, delicious dishes prepared by Ezidis and families from Bhutan, Nigeria, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Ghana, Iran and Austria. From spicy curries, including a memorable Bhutanese chili dish, to sweet pastries, there was something to please every palate.

Sri Lankan, Nepalese, Indian, Bhutan, Indonesian and Tandav dancers provided traditional dance performances to entertain the crowds together with local artists Chilli Jam, Fergus Lupton and Charlie Fittler. NERAM ran very popular free arts and crafts activities for the kids while the Armidale Regional Council offered Nintendo switches and virtual reality experiences for people to try. The event concluded with fireworks.

Culture Fest was hosted by UNE International Services with generous support from the NSW Government, Armidale Regional Council, the New England Regional Art Museum, UNE International Strategy and UNE Student Experience with a special vote of thanks to UNE International’s Alexandra Cook and Harrison Munday for all their hard work on the night and in the lead up to the event.