Join CO.AS.IT. in celebrating History Week 2019 with a joyful walk down memory lane, exploring the fun times that were had by young and old at the Lygon Street Festa over the last 40 years.

8 October 2019 – 7 November 2019

 LygonSt exhibition banner

This colourful exhibition brings together for the first time images, objects and stories from the CO.AS.IT. Italian Historical Society Collection which celebrate the unique history of the Lygon Street Festa, Australia’s first major Italian street festival.

From its inception in 1978, the Lygon Street Festa proved hugely popular with people of all ages and backgrounds. For the first time in Carlton’s history the local streets were closed to traffic for an entire weekend. This created the perfect stage for an incredible variety of activities that reflected the predominantly Italian cultural heritage of the local community.

The Festa became a yearly event and at its peak attracted crowds of over 700,000 people. It was regarded as both a local and international street festival with many exhibitions and performers travelling from Italy to take part. These included the extremely popular “Sbandieratori”, (flag-wavers) who, for many years, delighted the crowds with colourful displays of traditional medieval flag-throwing. Much-loved local events included “L’Albero della Cuccagna” (Greasy Pole Climbing), the Waiters Race and “Spacca Pignatte” (Break the pots). Regional Italian foods and music were a greatly anticipated part of any Festa.

Many people remember the early years of the Festa with great fondness and nostalgia and we are keen to hear from anyone who would like to share their Festa stories, mementoes and photographs. History Week 2019 is an important reminder that we need to collect and share this integral part of Carlton and Australia’s community history before it is gone forever.

LygonSt exhibition P 01987

Image: A street performer entertaining the crowds at the 1979 Lygon Street Festa.
Photographer: E.M. Bergagna. CO.AS.IT. Italian Historical Society P-01987

LygonSt exhibition P 01989

Image: Sbandieratori (Flag Wavers) from Siena performing during the Italian Arts Festival Melbourne, c.1980 
Photographer:  E. M. Bergagna. CO.AS.IT. Italian Historical Society P-01989