How to elevate your Multicultural Festival experience

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The annual National Multicultural Festival is being held this weekend from 12-14 February 2016. As a National Multicultural Festival veteran, I feel it is my duty to impart wisdom I have learnt over the years onto festival newbs. Behold - my 7 tips that will make your Multicultural Festival experience infinitely better.

1.  Be prepared for rain, hail or shine. The Multicultural Festival weekendis usually scorching, so bring sunscreen...and lots of it. So many people get sun burnt while walking around at the festival. I have never known it to rain but it couldn't hurt to chuck a disposable rain coat in your bag, just in case. And a water bottle to stay hydrated. Not all stalls provide napkins either, so have a pack of tissues handy or a bottle of hand sanitizer. Sticky fingers are the worst.

2. Don't forget to bring cash. Entry is free, but you will need cash for food and drink. ATMs will be available, but you don't want to spend all your time lining up at an ATM when there is FOOD to be had! While each individual item isn't too costly, it all adds up if you get multiple items so prepare enough cash.

3. Be (very) patient. Canberra is usually a quiet city but this is the one time that Canberrans all come out of the woodwork and descend on Civic. The 3-day festival draws in large crowds, which means queues for certain food stalls can take over an hour long during peak times. So if you can, avoid traditional meal times (12pm-2pm, 6pm-8pm). And if you do get there during those times, it's probably best you don't arrive hungry - or the crowds could quickly turn you hangry (hungry and angry).

4. Divide and conquer. Bring lots of friends. Delegate them to line up at different stalls (to save time) and then gather at a pre-determined meeting spot to share your bounty.

5. Resist getting the first dish you see. If you have the time (and patience), do a lap of the festival so you don't get food envy/regret.

The biggest danger at the festival is lack of stomach space. Plan your food strategy carefully.

Also, don't ever make the mistake of ordering the same dish as your friend. The portion sizes are annoyingly large. Always share different dishes so you can sample as much variety as possible.

6. Try something new. Avoid the stalls selling Chinese, Italian, Thai, Japanese, Aussie hotdogs/burgers because it's fairly commonplace in Australia. The multicultural festival is your chance to try something you would normally have to travel overseas to eat. Ever had a traditional Tongan drink or a Yemen roll? No? Then this is your chance!

7. Scan the program for cool performances you might want to check out. There are multiple stages, so there will be something close by wherever you are eating/lining up.

For a sneak preview of the deliciousness to come, check out some of the best eats from a previous Multicultural Festival!

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