The 27th annual International Festival is set to open Sept. 28 at the Raleigh Convention Center, bringing sights, sounds and tastes from all over the world to the Triangle. The Festival, a celebration of the area’s ethnic diversity, will open its doors at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and continue until 7 pm on Sunday, Sept. 30. Organizers expect approximately 30,000 visitors from all over the region.
The Festival’s biggest draws have always been the Main Stage dances, the Global Bazaar, and the Sidewalk Cafes, offering treats from every corner of the planet. However, Festival organizers say there’s so much else to look forward to this year that they’re selling weekend passes in addition to single-day tickets.
“There is so much to experience at the Festival, it’s hard to take it all in in one trip. People with a weekend ticket can spend as much time as they want and really enjoy it,” said Clodagh Lyons-Bastian, Executive Director of International Focus, the non-profit organization that hosts the Festival.
“We’ll have demonstration booths offering interactive classes on international cooking and dances. There’ll be Sophia’s Corner for the kids with international games, storytelling, and a lot of other fun ways to learn about the world and its cultures. And of course, kids young and old can travel the world with our Passport Scavenger Hunt at the Cultural Exhibits. This year many different ethnic clubs and associations –and there are a lot of them in this area— are putting together exhibits to tell visitors about their history and traditions based on the festival theme ‘A Defining Moment in History’. Altogether 58 nationalities are going to be represented at the Festival.”
Once culturally homogeneous, Wake County is now home to well over 100,000 foreign-born people. They are drawn to the area by the Research Triangle Park, half a dozen colleges and universities, economic opportunity, and the good quality of life offered by the Raleigh area. The immigrants put down roots here, but enrich their new community with the customs and flavors they bring from their homelands. Hundreds of these immigrants become U.S. citizens each year.The Festival will kick off Friday at 2:30pm with a Naturalization Ceremony, where about 300 candidates will complete the last step in
their process of becoming American citizens. Candidates will be welcomed by Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane and the Executive Director of UNC Global, Dr. Niklaus Steiner.
“It’s a really moving ceremony!” said Ms Bastian, herself a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Festival doors will be open Friday, Sept. 28 from 4:30 to 10 pm. Saturday, Sept. 29, the doors will be open from 10 am to 10 p.m. and on Sunday, Sept. 30, the Festival will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Schedules and pre-sale tickets are available at www.internationalfestival.org.
Friday, September 28
Kids 7-12 and seniors 65 and up: $5
Kids 6 and under: free
Groups of 10 and over: $5 per ticket
Saturday, September 29 and Sunday, September 30
Kids 7-12 and seniors 65 and up: $6
Groups of 10 and over: $7 per ticket