The iconic Pako Festa returns this month for a cultural feast in Geelong West

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The iconic Pako Festa returns this month for a cultural feast in Geelong West

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Words by Staff Writer

Geelong's multicultural heartbeat is set to pulsate louder and more vibrantly on Saturday, 24 February, as Cultura’s Pako Festa returns to the iconic Pakington Street. 

This annual free celebration of diversity has evolved into Victoria’s largest free multicultural street festival, showcasing the rich tapestry of Geelong’s cultural landscape through an enticing blend of food, music, dance and a kaleidoscopic street parade.

In the quaint suburb of Geelong West, every year in one place, on one day, Pakington Street transforms into a mesmerising carnival in celebration of Geelong’s diverse mix of cultures with people from all walks of life. The event kicks off at 9 am and runs until 5 pm, offering a unique opportunity for locals and visitors alike to revel in the festivities. 

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around the region here.

At the heart of Pako Festa is the Street Parade, a dazzling display of cultures that commences at 11 am, promising to be a highlight for its 42nd year. Shaping into one of the most colourful, vibrant displays of communities, the parade will be filled with traditional costumes, music, dance and entertainment from around the globe.

A Taste of Culture

For those with a passion for global cuisine, Pako Festa is a mouthwatering culinary adventure like no other. 

Presenting a unique once-a-year opportunity to sample unfamiliar cuisine from foreign lands, or to revisit popular international dishes, Pakington Street and West Park will become a mosaic of pop-up food vans and marquees, each representing the unique flavours of different countries. From traditional Bangladeshi Biryani to the exquisite taste of Fijian BBQ, the festival promises a gastronomic journey around the world.

Indulge your taste buds in the aromatic delights of the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-Op, offering a Bushtucker menu featuring Kangaroo burgers and Lemon Myrtle Ice Tea. For those with a love for Eastern European flavours, the Bosnian Lily Geelong Association presents irresistible offerings like Sirnica and Zeljanica.

You’ll also find rice dumplings from the Chinese community, meatballs and penne pasta from Club Italia, Butter chicken from Geelong Malayalee Association, and if you love dumplings, you cannot go past the Polish Stall offering Traditional Polish Dumplings, or sample Ukrainian Varenyky Potato and Cheese Dumplings.

Finally, if dessert is your weakness the French community will tempt you with a collection of croissants and Pain au Chocolat. The Polish, Russian, Croatian, Japanese, Greek, Serbian and Italian communities will also have a variety of sweets on offer. 

And the best part of all is that you don’t even have to feel guilty about stuffing your face. Pako Festa is an annual fundraiser for these local diverse communities and your food purchases support the ongoing sustainability of these communities.


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A Tapestry of Free Entertainment

Pako Festa’s multiple stages are a symphony of diverse music and dance performances, promising a never-ending roster of brilliant entertainment. The West Town Hall Stage, Gordon West Park Stage, and the Cultura Stage will host an array of talents from different cultural backgrounds. From the Geelong Harmony Choir, Spanish dancing and Irish dancing, to the rhythmic beats of Son de Mexico, the festival’s musical and entertainment landscape is as diverse as its culinary offerings. 

The Petrel Hotel stage will be rocking throughout the day with The Hollow Majors, The Maskell Love Band, Gabby Steel and Kelvin Plumb & Steve Minutoli delivering the musical goods.  

A real highlight is the Geelong Arts Centre’s stage which will feature some incredible performances from Geelong GRID Program participants – an innovative initiative designed to empower emerging artists and provide them with a comprehensive development program, including one-on-one mentoring, recording sessions, live performance opportunities, and more. 

Taking to the stage will be First Nations hip-hop artist Ridzyray, Congolese artist Baraka The Kid, South Indian neo-soul creative Wild Gloriosa, young Samoan musician Elena Nichols (AKA Lenny), and the impressive local singer-songwriter Daisy Kilbourne. 

In addition to the GRID Series artists, the Geelong Arts Centre stage will also feature performances by renowned local artists Bella Deer and Riordan, along with the Celtic Festival Showcase.

For music enthusiasts, this is the stage to be at during Pako Festa. 


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The Pako Festa Story: A Community Legacy

Rooted in community spirit, Pako Festa traces its origins back to 1983. What began as a modest gathering with just 12,000 people has blossomed into Victoria’s largest free multi-arts and cultural party, attracting over 100,000 attendees in 2020. Organised by Cultura, the event is a testament to the extraordinary contributions of individuals, cultural groups, and multicultural communities in Geelong and across Australia.

Join the revelry and experience the enriching connections of culture at Pako Festa, where the streets of Geelong West come alive with the spirit of diversity and unity.

Pako Festa heads to Pakington Street in Geelong West on 24 February 2024 from 9am – 5pm. Find out more here