Festival of International Understanding

The 2024 Cowra Festival of International Understanding will take place from 22nd - 24th March 2024, with guest nation, Italy!

 2024 poster

For all enquires please email Festival Coordinator Lisa Flanagan on festival@cowra.nsw.gov.au 

Please book your tickets for Festa Italiana below here

Trivia Night on 21 March at 6:30pm

Pizza Eating Competition on 23 March at 6pm

Festa Italiana Opening Dinner

A unique event celebrating our 

The Festival originated in the mid-1960s at a time when the town was coming to recognise the benefits of promoting understanding between nations. It is a credit to the local community — and recognition of their support for this first event — that the Festival immediately grabbed the public's attention. Cowra Festival of International Understanding (originally the Festival of the Lachlan Valley) is a community-based event focusing on Cowra's unique place as the home of reconciliation. Proudly hosting Australia's World Peace Bell — this honour derived from Cowra's first-hand experience of war with the POW Breakout of Japanese prisoners in 1944.

This annual Festival was first conceived in 1964 as Cowra Shire approached the 150th anniversary of Surveyor George William Evans' exploration of the Lachlan River in May 1815. It was suggested that some form of celebration be held to mark this historic occasion.
A committee was subsequently formed to organise a celebration — "Cowra's Festival of the Lachlan Valley" — after a community competition had been held to name the event. Theme of the first Festival was the historical importance to the town and district of the first European exploration of the Lachlan Valley; and included a full-week of celebrations in April 1965. As a special guest, New Zealand's High Commissioner performed the official opening with more than £5400 ($10,800) raised from the inaugural Festival which was donated towards development of the Wyangala Waters foreshores area.
Following this success; it was decided to hold this unique celebration annually with the idea of featuring a guest nation strongly supported. The theme of "International Understanding" was also embraced at this time and — because of our unique historical links — Japan was invited to be the first Guest Nation. Succeeding years have seen a number of variations and additions to the Festival but the basic format and aim of the event has remained constant.
With Cowra bestowed world recognition as the site of Australia's replica of the World Peace Bell in 1992, the celebration's name was changed to the "Festival of International Understanding"; an alteration that also incorporated the Festival's main theme that all the peoples of the world are one.
A Guest Nation has subsequently featured and been celebrated at each Festival; with the exception of 2002 and 2022 which focused on Cowra's cultural diversity and 2014 which featured the United Nations.
The Festival continues to be a major event in the Cowra Shire calendar and plays a significant role in building a sense of pride and identity in the Cowra Community.

List of the Guest Nations for the Festival

1965 New Zealand 

1985 Spain

2005 Malta

1966 Japan 

1986 Canada

2006 Poland

1967 India 

1987 USSR 

2007 South Africa

1968 Malaysia 

1988 Australia 

2008 Chile

1969 Italy 

1989 Peru 

2009 Portugal

1970 Great Britain 

1990 Austria 

2010 Hungary 

1971 United States of America 

1991 Egypt 

2011 Turkey

1972 Indonesia 

1992 Ireland 

2012 Finland 

1973 Federal Republic of Germany

1993 Western Samoa 

2013 Sri Lanka 

1974 Thailand 

1994 New Zealand 

2014 United Nations

1975 Netherlands 

1995 Zimbabwe 

2015 Republic of Korea 

1976 Mexico 

1996 Papua New Guinea 

2016 Kingdom of Tonga

1977 Iran 

1997 Belgium 

2017 Belarus

1978 Fiji 

1998 Israel 

2018 Nepal 

1979 Greece 

1999 Denmark

2019 Japan 

1980 France

 2000 Argentina

2020 Cancelled

1981 China

 2001 Romania 

2021 New Zealand  

1982 Brazil 

 2002 Celebrating Cowra's Cultural Diversity

2022 Celebrating Cowra's Cultural Diversity 

1983 Sweden 

2003 Vietnam

2023 Indonesia 

1984 The Philippines 

2004 Slovakia

2024 Italy


Photo Gallery