Moon Festival on the rise

Iris Tang, left, and Suzana Li… “We want to spread a message of unity, of working together to create a better, nicer community and a better world through this festival.” Photo by Kathryn Vukolvjak

TRADITIONAL Chinese decorations, lanterns and knots will fill Civic Square on October 1 to celebrate the Canberra Moon Festival, as well as food stalls, performances, myths and legends.

Organisers Iris Tang and Suzana Li say they wanted to bring a big outdoor cultural Asian event to Canberra and last year they organised the first Moon Festival, a mid-autumn harvest celebration that originated in China.

“It’s an important traditional festival and symbolises harvest and reunion, and it’s become popular throughout many Asian cultures,” she says.

“Traditionally, the whole family will get together to celebrate the Moon Festival with a big meal and moon cake, which is a pastry cake made differently in each culture.”

Suzana says each year the festival is held on the autumn equinox according to the lunar calendar, when the moon is at its furthest point from the earth. Iris says she hopes this year’s later October date will bring better weather than last year’s event, when they had to relocate to the Old Bus Depot Markets because of rain.

“It’s a family-friendly event, with no alcohol and plenty of kids’ activities and performances, including Lucy Sugerman, who’s half Vietnamese, from ‘The Voice’ and a very beautiful projected, live, sand art of the myth of the Moon Fairy,” says Suzana.

This year’s theme is “Tie us Together”, or “Knot”, as Suzana says their dream is to make it multicultural and bring more nationalities together.

“We want to spread a message of unity, of working together to create a better, nicer community and a better world through this festival,” she says.

“We’ve named it Canberra Moon Festival – the festival itself carries the meaning of unity and isn’t only celebrated by Chinese people, so we wanted even the name to encourage everyone to be involved.

“It’s not just a cultural event, it’s for everyone in Canberra, with representation for all nationalities’ food and artistic performances.”

From a combination of community and professional performances from Thai traditional dances, Korean pop dance, Chinese dance, martial arts and a lion dance, Iris says the event will also include a pop-up grocery store and 17 different food stalls.

“We’re hoping to attract up to 10,000 people this year, last year’s event we had 6000 so it’s possible, as we are supported this year by the Multicultural Office, Canberra Theatre Centre, OzHarvest and sponsored by Keggins, La Casa Property Group and Mondiaux Security,” she says.

Suzana says the festival is structured better behind the scenes this year as well.

“Last year we were just a team of people, but this year we formed a not-for-profit, called Eastar, to host this one festival, and we see it as a good platform to be able to support charities and local artists, tourism and the economy,” she says.

As part of this, Eastar has partnered with OzHarvest and the entry fee to the event will be through donating two excess food items. It’s possible to pay, too, with a gold coin.

The 2017 Canberra Moon Festival will be held 1pm-8pm, Sunday, October 1, Canberra Theatre Centre forecourt, Civic Square.

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