The World of Montgomery Festival celebrates and explores the rich cultural heritages of the DC Area with international music, food, dance, exhibits and hands-on arts, crafts activities, and more. Sunday, October 18, 12-5 PM at Montgomery College, Rockville.
This year’s FREE festival features China, El Salvador, Ethiopia, and India – the four countries of Montgomery County’s Sister Cities partnership that have the largest local immigrant populations.
Experience the cultures and traditions of our featured countries at the International Village, which includes two entertainment stages, traditional crafts, ethnic food vendors, and fun activities for the whole family. Participate in a variety of fun, hands-on activities, including traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremonies, dancing with a Chinese dragon, and henna art painting.
The Parade of Cultures starts at 1:30 pm and features feet pounding rhythms of traditional African drummers, Bolivian dancers and performers in native dress from varied cultures.
Featured Musical Acts are Robbie Shaefer (of Eddie From Ohio fame), Latin sensation Verny Varela, Zydeco band the Crawdaddies, and Pablo Antonio y La Firma (a 13-piece Salsa and Meringue band). Performance stages spotlight dancers and musicians in native dress, such as Chinese mask theater, an Ethiopian drumming and dance group, Indian dancers performing a harvest celebration, and an El Salvadorian marching band. See the music and schedule pages for more details
Demonstrations of traditional arts and interactive activities also abound at World of Montgomery. Try your hand at Roti making in the Global Spice Market or watch international chefs prepare regional dishes in the Global Kitchen.
As a preview of their upcoming Mask Exhibit, KID Museum is offering a series of cultural mask-oriented activities. Create your own molded masks using clay and a vacuum-molder, and help construct three giant communal masks. Participants can try on masks from different regions and of different styles and take photos in KID Museum’s installation, “Unmasking The Self(ie): Masks, Culture & Identity”. Send in your mask selfie to our Instagram Challenge for a chance to win a KID Museum family membership #kidmuseummaskcontest. Masks and mask making will also be presented by all of the different countries at World of Montgomery.
In support of Montgomery County’s Community Service Week (October 16-25), attendees can visit the Volunteer Center’s “Volunteer Village” and participate in an onsite community service project while learning about current and future opportunities to lend a helping hand locally.
“This multicultural celebration gives children and adults alike an appreciation for the rich, diverse world that is in our own backyard, said G. Keith Haller, Chairman of the Fund For Montgomery, the lead presenter of the festival. “It’s about inspiring a new generation of ‘global ambassadors’ who can make ours the most welcoming community in the country.”
Visitors to the India tent at the Festival can experience on of the most beautiful traditional arts – henna art. The art of painting henna designs on the body, also called mehndi in Hindi, has been practiced for more than 5,000 years in Pakistan, India, Africa and the Middle East.
Henna paste, made from grinding leaves of the henna tree, was initially used to cool the body. When it was discovered that the paste left a stain on the skin, henna art was born! Cleopatra, the Egyptian queen, was known to use henna to decorate her body.
Henna art is used not only to decorate the body, but is also used for auspicious or celebratory events to bring good fortune. Historically, henna art is associated with romantic love and the ritual of marriage. The intricate floral and paisley designs often seen on the hands and feet of an Indian bride are a sign of good luck for the newlyweds. Henna art is usually practiced by women who teach others the art form—passing down recipes and designs from one generation to the next.
At the World of Montgomery festival, the China area is decorated with beautiful lanterns hung from all sides of the tents. Stop by the China tent to learn how to make one!
If you would like to write hello in Chinese, the greeting is Nǐ hǎo and the characters are below.
Cascarones at World of Montgomery
Look for the Cascarones (Kas-Ka-ro-nez) at the El Salvador tent. These are beautifully colored eggs filled with confetti and small toys traditionally made to celebrate Easter. Easter confetti eggs are often broken over someone’s head as a symbol of good luck. The Cascarone or confetti egg tradition is said to have begun in Italy using hollowed eggshells filled with perfumed powder. The El Salvadoran tradition became popular in Mexico and spread to other countries in Latin America.
Coffee as an Art Form
Participate in a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony at the Ethiopia tent. The Ethiopian ceremony demonstrates the full life cycle of coffee preparation and is usually performed by a young woman who wears a long white dress with colorful embroidered borders on its sleeves. The young woman has been taught how to conduct the ceremony through watching and learning from other women. Through carefully planned movement and practiced rituals, the relatively simple act of washing, roasting, grinding, brewing, pouring and serving coffee is elevated to an art form. It is a feast for the senses of smell, sight and taste.