Folk festival serves taste of the Mediterranean 

The sounds and smells of the Mediterranean will waft from Bulli Showground next month as the Illawarra Folk Festival launches its annual festivities with a European smorgasbord of music and food.

The four-day festival will kick off with a Mediterranean lunch on January 17, embracing popular dishes from Italy, Greece and Spain. Crowds will be entertained by two bands during the luncheon including Italian folk outfit Zumpa and Brisbane six-piece Mzaza, which has French, Persian and Greek influences.

Festival artistic director David De Santi said food had always been an important part of the festival experience.

"We have traditionally started the festival with an Italian lunch, but this year we decided to broaden it to the entire Mediterranean and introduce dishes like paella [and] a special vegetarian moussaka," he said.

The 28th folk festival runs from January 17 to 20 and will feature more than 150 acts and 300 performers including Mike McClellan, Jeff Lang and Christine Anu, as well as belly dancing, poetry readings and activities for kids.

Tickets for the three-course Mediterranean lunch are $15 with a complimentary glass of sangria. Concession tickets are available for children.

Illawarra Folk Festival president Russell Hannah will also host his traditional tripe-lovers' dinner on January 17.

For further details and tickets, telephone 1300 8876 034, or online at www.illawarrafolkfestival.com .au.

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