March 2006 will be an exciting time to be in Melbourne, with the city playing host to the biggest Commonwealth Games ever held. An estimated 90,000 international and interstate visitors are expected to be in town for the extravaganza, which will take place between 15 and 26 March. Then there are the 4,500 athletes from 71 nations, who will compete over 12 days in 16 different sports.

Organisers say the Games will be incredibly user-friendly, with most events taking place within walking distance of the CBD at venues such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Melbourne Park. Public transport will be free to ticket holders on the day of their events.

A massive cultural festival is also being held in Melbourne at the same time, giving visitors something other than sport to see and do. Festival Melbourne 2006 will be the largest cultural festival ever held in Australia. It will include local and international performing artists and exhibitions, with all events free to the public.

Every day the city will be alive with music, dance, circus and street theatre from various Commonwealth nations. Highlights will include the Afro Jambo Acrobats from Kenya, Scrap Arts Music (music made from scrap metal) from Canada, the Tongan Royal Military Corps of Musicians, and English aerialists in Dream Engine.

Exhibitions will include an unusual collection of hand-crafted coffins from Ghana in Worldly Things, plus the best entries in the Commonwealth Photographic Awards, The Best Of The Best.

The festival also features a youth component consisting of outdoor art around Melbourne’s streets and laneways.

For more on the 2006 Commonwealth Games go to the Melbourne 2006 website.

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