Festival celebrates city’s cultural diversity

Old City Quarter hosts fifth annual multicultural festival

For 364 days a year, Wesley Street is just that … another street in Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter.

But on Saturday (June 25), it becomes  a street in Japan, China, India, Vietnam, Ukraine or Africa as Nanaimo celebrates its diversity with the fifth annual multicultural festival.

Wesley Street and the Heritage Mews will be filled with entertainment, family activities and tastes of food from around the world from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“It’s a showcase of all the cultural diversity that Nanaimo has,” said Manda Chelmak, event co-coordinator. “We have diverse lineup for the main stage and a fantastic lineup of  information services including Islamic, Hindu, or Latin … the list goes on and on.”

Entertainment includes First Nation dancers, Chinese dragon dance, African drumming, Ukrainian dancers, belly dancing and Canadian rock and roll.

Along with sounds and sights from around the world, festival participants can also enjoy tastes and smells as a variety of Nanaimo restaurants including the Queen’s (Chinese), in Tin Market (Vietnamese), Sandy’s Ukrainian Kitchen, Bistro Tayio (Japanese), The Nest (Indian) and Gabriel’s Cafè (Tex Mex) will be providing  a bite to eat.

The children’s entertainment portion of the festival has been expanded this year and includes a medieval castle, musical instruments and a cultural dress-up area.

Kids can create Mexican maracas, Japanese origami, a First Nation button blanket, Caribana mask, Inuit Inukshuk and world flags.

Information is also available from a number of Nanaimo organizations including the Vancouver Island Multicultural Society, Arts Alive, Nanaimo Blues Festival Society,  Vancouver Island University international education and Service Canada.

“It’s a very community-supported event,” said Chelmak. “Not only does it show the diversity and multicuturalism in Nanaimo, but it’s an event to showcase the Old City Quarter and all of the businesses nicely tucked away up there. I personally didn’t realize how unique it was until I got involved with this festival.”

The festival is presented by the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association in partnership with the Old City Quarter, Headliners School of Performing Arts and VIU international education department.

For more information, please visit www.dnbia.ca or call 250-754-8141.