City’s culture celebrated during carnivale

City's culture celebrated during carnivale during Culture Days.

Nanaimo was built by differences – different cultures and ideas.

This Sunday (Sept. 30) people are invited to embrace those differences and the menagerie of cultures that helped formed the community during Nanaimo’s Arte de Carnavale. The event is hosted by the Nanaimo African Heritage Society and is the city’s second annual celebration of national Culture Days.

“Being from a minority group and part of our menagerie of culture in the community I love to celebrate the cultural diversity,” said Shalema Gantt, president of the Nanaimo African Heritage Society.

The Arte de Carnavale draws inspiration from the Venetian carnivals, which began in the 17th century and are still celebrated today. During the carnivals people wear elaborate costumes and masks; some spend months making their outfits. Nanaimo residents are encouraged to wear period costumes and masks to the carnival. Gantt said she hopes people embrace a sense of fun and raid their closets, perhaps using parts of old Halloween costumes, flowers, ribbons or bolts of fabric to create a festive look.

Sara Schmidt, president of the Nanaimo Arts Council, said the event is a chance for everyone to bring out their inner creativity.

“Events like these create community. It links everybody,” she said. “Whether we create visual art of dance or theatre we all have creativity in us.”

The Arts Council is one of the organizations involved in the event. Schmidt said the carnival theme allows people to have fun and “be outrageous” with their costume designs.

Hilde Schlosar, executive director of the Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society, said culture days is an opportunity for people to “embrace the fun things that are different” about the community.

“It’s like a mosaic of beautiful things,” she said, adding the festival allows people to celebrate what is unique, different and fun about “all of us.”

The Carnavale features visual art exhibitions, street performers, artisans, musicians, dance groups and a fashion show. It will showcase the artistic talents of the Nanaimo community. There is a costume contest, an outdoor bistro and more. It also features mask making all day. Nanaimo’s Arte de Carnival runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Diana Krall Plaza.

For more information please call 250-729-9332 or e-mail


Culture Days was created in response to the recognition that the arts and cultural sectors contribute to a healthy and stable society.

It was created in 2010 and this year will be celebrated in more than 800 communities across Canada from Sept. 28-30. The event’s creation was inspired by Québec’s annual Journées de la culture celebration, which raises public participation and engagement in arts and culture in communities across Québec.

For more information please go to