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Piers Festival 2016 celebrates Australia’s migrant history and diverse cultural heritage

Zoe Law

Fri Apr 01 2016

2015_Piers Festival_Piers Festival 2013, DWV Photography (2)

ATTRACTING some 12,000 attendees last year, the Piers Festival has become an annual highlight in Victoria’s cultural calendar, offering students a chance to explore the nation’s migrant history and diverse cultural heritage through the arts. Zoe Law has more.

Princes Pier, Port Melbourne, is set to come alive this Sunday with a festival after its namesake to celebrate and reflect on Australia’s collective historical and contemporary migration stories.

For the uninitiated, the pier was the significant entry point where almost half of Australia’s post World War II refugees arrived, and played a pivotal role in Victoria’s growth from 1915 to 1969 and served as a gateway to the diversity of cultures that enrich the community today.

In its fifth year, the strength of the festival’s programming has helped anchor the event as an annual highlight in Victoria’s cultural calendar, attracting some 12,000 attendees last year.


Headlining this year’s event on the Main Stage is Australia’s iconic and profound Indigenous voice and musician Archie Roach alongside new global music collaborations,Polynesian dance group Nuholani and more.

The Landing will bring together some of Victoria’s most active cultural associations representing their communities and culture through exhibitions, activities and performances.

Curated by Lella Carrid, What Happened at the Pier will feature live poetry readings, forums and musical responses inside The Gatehouse, alongside an exhibition of artefacts and moving image illustrating the narratives from the artists and Memory Keepers who arrived to Melbourne from Princes Pier.

There’ll also be workshops (learn how to play the ukulele!), cultural games, roving activities and performers, and of course, food stalls and food trucks serving up traditional fare from countries like Germany, Western Africa, Japan and Poland.

Presented by Multicultural Arts Victoria, Piers Festival takes place Sunday April 3, from 12 noon to 7pm at Princes Pier, Port Melbourne. The event is free, and more information, including the full festival program, is available via the Piers Festival event website