Celebrate cultural diversity at this jam-packed festival
Maitland Riverlights was back for 2023, this time bigger and better than ever. The popular multicultural festival has grown from a single day event to a weeklong celebration of the cultures that call Maitland home.
Throughout the first week of October, Maitland was a delicious melting pot of culinary delights, dance, music, and culture. This year’s expanded program included author talks, drumming workshops, poi workshops, art and lantern making workshops, and more.
The festival culminated with the traditional celebration from 12pm-9pm on Saturday October 7, when The Levee transformed into a bustling world village with dance workshops, cooking demonstrations, culinary treats from across the world, language lessons, live music, lantern making, dynamic lighting, and roving entertainment.
Special guest, renowned cook, writer, and broadcaster Adam Liaw, appeared across the Global Kitchen and World Stage.
And of course, Riverlights Festival would not be complete without the showstopping procession finale and lantern flotilla on Saturday night.
This year, Maitland Riverlights featured a number of workshops from Tuesday October 3 through to Saturday October 7. Kids could make music at Kaboom! Kids Drumming Workshop, learn some Bollywood moves in a dance workshop, or make your very own lantern to be included as part of the finale lantern flotilla on the Hunter River.
The Riverlights Cultural Villages were the heart and soul of the festival, allowing visitors to travel the globe without leaving Maitland.
Representing different nations and cultures, in 2023 the Cultural Villages offered free interactive experiences, delicious food sampling, and arts and crafts for sale.
Express Yourself Language Lounge
The Express Yourself Language Lounge is a crowd favourite at Maitland Riverlights. Visitors were invited to come along and learn songs to sing, common words and greetings, dances, and poetry in a number of languages like French, Indonesian, and Samoan.
Everyone's inner chefs were inspired with a variety of cooking demonstrations at the Global Kitchen. The Global Kitchen featured different flavours from around the globe with expert presenters taking the stage to share their top cooking tips and tricks.
There was stacks to eat at the Riverlights Eatery, located in Dransfield Lane and Bulwer Street. This dedicated food area featured favourite local and regional food trucks and stalls serving up food and drinks from across the globe.
The World Stage, proudly sponsored by University of Newcastle, was filled with vibrant and colourful cultural song and dance performances, a cultural fashion parade as well as the Citizenship Ceremony and Official Ceremony.
The Riverlights Stage, sponsored by University of Newcastle, is set out on the riverbank and featured a host of multicultural-inspired performances on Saturday October 7.
The performances kicked off with the flare of Paco Lara Flamenco Duo, Cultural Bloom, and the mellow yet lush rhythms of Big Jarda.
Also taking to the stage was Caribbean Soul, the Mariachi Trio, an amazing display of Chinese Lion followed by Gambirra Mob, a 12-piece powerhouse band.
In the evening, fire dancing took over the stage, followed by the cool sounds of soul and funk band The Bamboos. The night was be rounded out with the spectacular finale and lantern flotilla.
Riverlights Maitland went out with a bang with the finale on Saturday night. The community lantern parade and flotilla also featured stories, dance, and artworks created with local community groups participating in Maitland Riverlights.
Reflecting diverse cultural connections that link water with creativity and community vitality, the program focused on the river as an enlivened space of symbolic significance to many cultures.
When: 2024 dates TBA
Where: The Levee, Central Maitland
For more information, visit maitlandriverlights.com.au
Maitland Riverlights is proudly supported by Destination NSW, Multicultural NSW, 2NURFM, Newcastle Airport and University of Newcastle.