Arts & Entertainment

Kaleidoscope Of Culture

Photo: Salty Dingo

By Madison Behringer

Unfortunately due to concerns surrounding COVID-19 (coronavirus) Parramasala will no longer be happening this weekend according to a statement from the City Of Parramatta council.

“Following significant feedback from communities and growing concerns over COVID-19, the Parramasala Board has made the difficult decision to postpone the 2020 Parramasala Festival. The safety and wellbeing of our communities is of the highest importance to the board, stakeholders and event managers of Parramasala.”

This weekend Parramatta’s Prince Alfred Square will transform into a hive of sound, colour and celebration as the city celebrates the 10 Year Anniversary of Parramasala, presented with Multicultural NSW. After a decade of celebrating diversity and culture, the festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a packed line-up of music, food, dance and film. Parramasala is a music festival, food festival and international dance festival all rolled into one weekend and draws crowds of over 35,000 people from across Sydney and beyond.

The weekend will kick off on Friday night with the iconic Welcome Parade, a celebration of culture, colour and dance. Following the parade, festival-goers are invited to Parramasala’s 10th Birthday Party with a spectacular finale highlighting the endless colours of Sydney’s many cultures. Legendary party band Los Amigos Invisibles will then keep the festivities going into the night, with the Opening Night Party highlighting the five time Grammy nominated band and their combination of funk, driving Latin rhythms and big city beats.

Saturday will see Parramasala morph into a large scale music festival with artists including Sampa the Great, Mojo Juju, Adrian Eagle, Mieesha and Yoni Yen. Masala Music Festival celebrates the sounds and heritage of a huge range of musicians and will have festival-goers dancing late into the night. Between sets punters can catch dance performances and other live performance acts.

Across both Saturday and Sunday the International Food Village gives you a chance to taste and experience food and drinks from all over the world. Parramasala’s Food Village is a culinary passport to taste foods from all over the world all in one place. The food market highlights flavours from all over Sydney and the world.

On Sunday the festival offers a little something for everyone, including the kids. Kick the day off with a celebration of community and unity at Parramasala’s newest addition – a Long Table Brunch. Take a seat, grab a coffee and something to eat and engage in a chat with other Sydneysiders from all walks of life and cultures. After brunch, take a walk through the International Aromas Festival, a brand-new pop-up cultural precinct at Market Street pairing coffee, sweet treats, chocolate and market stalls.

Other key events across the Parramasala weekend include Masala Nights on March 14, Masala World Movies and the all-new Kids International Eco Village. The whole family can come along and find an experience or event to enjoy, with kids having the opportunity to explore, play and create while enjoying one of many cultural workshops.

Parramasala Festival Director Paul Osborne spoke with City Hub about the history of the festival and this weekend’s exciting line-up.

Parramasala is now about celebrating all cultures. The festival is about celebrating the cultures in the local area and also celebrating the city itself,” Osborne said. “Whilst there are many cultural festivals in Sydney… there isn’t a festival other than Parramasala that focuses on all cultures, and about bringing those cultures together.

The festival highlights a huge line-up of musicians, one that Osborne is excited to present. “There are some incredible things happening in the area of Parramatta, in terms of music; its own musical culture. There’s an exploration and discovery there in terms of music and fusion music and celebrating those different cultures.”

Although Parramasala is a cultural celebration, Osborne says the festival celebrates more than that, “I think about our music program on the Saturday, it’s just a solid music program. It’s not exotic, I’ve just got a cracking music program and what’s great about it is that all those people happen to come from a diverse background.”

Osborne went on to say, “this is just celebrating Sydney as it is, this is just our city now.”

Yoni Yen is an Australian born Korean producer and vocalist who will be performing a set of her soulful RnB sounds as part of Parramasala’s music line-up. Yoni shared the importance of performing at a festival that celebrates culture in art saying, “my heritage definitely gives me a sense of identity, especially now as an adult. And it comes through in my music.”

Middle Eastern belly dancer Laura Osweiller will be teaching workshops and performing throughout the weekend and also shared how important Parramasala is to her as a dancer and to the cultures celebrated across the festival.

“For me Parramasala is really important because it’s a way for different cultures to come together to not only represent and celebrate what they do but also to interact with other artists.” Osweiller went on to say, “It’s a way of sharing areas where there is unity and commonality but also respecting and acknowledging difference within the communities.”

Festival Director Paul Osborne says Parramasala is a cultural celebration like no other, and that this year’s 10 Year Birthday celebration will be the biggest and best festival yet.

Parramasala is so fantastic because you can come to the festival with the intention of seeing one thing, and end up staying and experiencing a whole range of other events. It’s like three festivals rolled into one,” Osborne said. “That’s the experience of Parramasala… it’s irresistible even if you’re just coming for the food or the music. You’ll get this immersion into another experience.”

Mar 13-15. Prince Alfred Square, 353 Church St, Parramatta. Info: www.parramasala.com