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Broome’s ‘Festival of the Pearl’ Shinju Matsuri returns

The annual Shinju Matsuri festival returns to Broome this year, taking over the Kimberley town with a series of events and cultural celebrations from Saturday, August 17 until Sunday, September 1.

Shinju Matsuri, which is Japanese for ‘Festival of the Pearl’, has been a celebrated fixture of Western Australia’s regional events calendar since its inception in 1970. The festival originated from three cultural festivals—the Japanese Obon Matsuri, the Chinese Hang Seng, and the Malaysian Hari Merdeka—which celebrates Independence Day from British rule in 1957.

Shinju Matsuri rekindles the excitement and romance of Broome’s early days as a world-renowned producer of South Sea pearls, when the Japanese, Chinese, Malay, Koepangers, Filipinos, and Europeans flocked to Broome in the late nineteenth century to be a part of this prosperity. This unique multicultural population of pearl industry workers joined with the local Aboriginal people and Europeans to work on up to 400 pearling luggers that sailed out of Broome.

Each year, the people and businesses of Broome come together to celebrate the heritage and history of the town. The volunteer Board of Shinju Matsuri is community-driven, viewing the festival as a platform to educate and enlighten people about Broome’s cultural heritage. Their goal is to pass on this knowledge to young people and new arrivals, ensuring that Broome’s distinctive and diverse identity is recognised and preserved for future generations.

Shinju Matsuri kicks off on Saturday, August 17, with the Opening Ball at the Shinju Matsuri Festival Hub at the Town Beach. A modern take on the historic Shinju Ball, the event will include live music, dinner, and drinks under the starlit sky of Roebuck Bay.

The Chinatown Feast is a starlit Hawker-style dining event with a Kimberley twist. Held in the heart of Chinatown on Wednesday, August 21, it’s an opportunity to tantalise your taste buds with a selection of dishes from Broome’s finest food vendors, with entertainment from roving performers and live musicians throughout the evening.

Festival favourite, the Pearl Meat Cook Off, is making its return to Pearl Luggers in Chinatown on Friday, August 23. Delight your taste buds as you try a selection of pearl meat dishes from Broome’s best chefs as they compete for the title of 2024 Pearl Meat Cook Off Champion.

Experience the spectacular Floating Lantern Matsuri on Sunday, August 25. This is a ticketed event for the whole family and includes access to the Floating Lantern Festival Hub, one lantern kit per person, a drink on arrival, and a special menu of Japanese canapes served throughout the evening.

Arriving for the first time in 2024 is Shinju Matsuri’s very first Cable Beach Sunset Cocktail Party. Taking place on the iconic beach on Friday, August 30, guests will enjoy a delicious canape menu designed with local ingredients and seasonal produce, as some of Broome and WA’s best DJs get the dance floor pumping until late.

Indulge in an opulent night dining under the stars at the festival’s premier dining event, the Sunset Long Table Dinner on Cable Beach on Saturday, August 31. Renowned as one of the most exclusive dining tables in WA, the dinner is the most anticipated Shinju Matsuri event each year, with an exciting menu inspired by Broome’s rich cultural tapestry that showcases local ingredients and seasonal produce from the region.

The program also includes a Family Fun Day, a Float Parade and dance performances at the Carnival of Nations event on Sunday, August 18, as well as pearl grading classes, all-ages events, art exhibitions and more throughout the two weeks of the festival.

Shinju Matsuri festival takes over Broome from Saturday, August 17, until Sunday, September 1, 2024. For more info and to buy tickets, head to shinjumatsuri.com.au

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