International Festival Returns, Creates Global Connections
West Michigan residents can eat, shop, and dance their way around the world at the 2023 International Festival of Holland on Saturday, September 30th from 2-7 pm, at the Holland Civic Center Place. This free, family-friendly community event features internationally acclaimed performing artists, a Festival Mercado (marketplace), a Children’s Fiesta, a World Arena Soccer Jamboree, and new this year, a Parade of Flags.
The Festival Main Stage will feature artists performing Cuban, Japanese, African, North American, and Mexican music and dance. “For this year’s festival we wanted to shine the spotlight on the cultural traditions that make up our community, so we can better understand our friends and neighbors,” explained Michael Cuellar, chair of the International Relations Commission that is hosting the festival. ”At the same time, the Mercado vendors, with their variety of delicious food and amazing goods, will help us experience the wider world.”
Vendors at the Festival Mercado, or marketplace, will offer food from India, the Middle East, Ireland, Scotland, the Caribbean, Mexico, Thailand, and the African continent. Jewelry, clothing, housewares, and folk art from around the world will also be available for purchase. West Michigan non-profit organizations involved in international work abroad and at home will be on hand to share their stories. Vendor spaces are still available, and applications can be found at internationalfestivalholland.com.
The Gentex Children’s Fiesta will feature hands-on global art stations hosted by CultureWorks, a Festival Passport Station, and new this year, a Festival Treasure Dig hosted by The Bridge. Special children’s performances include a Japanese drumming demonstration, a ballet folklórico dance lesson, and a Chinese dragon dance.
The World Arena Soccer Jamboree, sponsored by Haworth Helps and hosted by USA Soccer offers middle school athletes (male and female) a chance to participate in the festival. Scrimmages will be held at Kollen Park the morning of September 30th.
A new component of the festival will be the Parade of Flags, with individuals and families carrying the flag representing their homeland or that of their ancestors. Flags of all 193 United Nations member countries will be available. Participation is free and signup is required.
More information about all the festival, including parade signup, schedule, and map, visit internationalfestivalholland.com and follow along on Facebook and Instagram.