ALL roads will lead to the Ipswich Festival when the 12-day annual extravaganza opens on April 24.
Ipswich Events Corporation executive chairman Paul Casos said this year a record number of Ipswich residents would be involved and seven marching bands and 1000 people would take part in the popular street parade.
"Over a dozen of Ipswich's emerging solo performers and groups will star in the street party with special guests from the national arena performing simultaneously across three stages in a dazzling cross-section of genres - from pop to chorale, country covers to hip-hop, Latin, folk and soul," Mr Casos said.
Mayor Paul Pisasale said the festival was "the time of year when we celebrate what is good about Ipswich and all the great work we have done".
"At the same time we open up our homes and hearts to people of south-east Queensland, and they will be surprised," he said.
"Our festival is the strongest regional festival in the country."
Highlights of the festival will include Riverfire and the Global Fiesta, which has been boosted by a 50% increase in funding by the State Government.
"We have to embrace multiculturalism," Cr Pisasale said.
"We are a city of 115 different nationalities, speaking 84 different languages.
"More and more people are becoming part of the festival. After two natural disasters, this is a great way to relax and celebrate each other."
Mr Casos said high-quality visual artists and practitioners would contribute to the Ipswich Art Awards.
"This year we also have several new events... the creations of local artists and photographers," he said.
This includes photo-journalist Rob Williams's Faces of Ipswich exhibition, and John Coleman's Sci-Art display at the Ipswich Art Gallery. Photographer Lyle Radford will also showcase a retrospective at Cactus Espresso Bar. The festival runs from Wednesday, April 24, to Sunday, May 5.
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