WorldFest, one of the region’s largest international festivals, will take place this Labor Day weekend for its 15th year, with four days of international food, music, dance and culture starting Sept. 1 at the downtown Belvedere.
More than 70 local and regional entertainers will offer a variety of music, dance styles and beats, ranging from African drumming to reggae to Indian, Celtic, Arabic, Latin, Caribbean music and more.
Headliner acts will include Toby Foyeh & Orchestra Africa, Cheili Minucci & the EFK All Stars with Karen Briggs, Billy Goat Strut Revue, Cosa Seria, Afro Physicists, and The British Invasion.
More than 100 vendors will participate, with 30-plus food vendors serving a global sampling of cuisine and culture.
“Louisville is a welcoming community, a community that values the immigrants and refugees who help make us grow as a city in so many ways,” Mayor Greg Fischer said today, in announcing this year’s event. “Our diversity is on proud display during the WorldFest weekend, and I encourage everyone to come out and experience all the world has to offer, right here in our own downtown.”
Admission to WorldFest is free all four days because of Western Kentucky University Confucius Institute and Passport Health Plan’s generous support.
“The Confucius Institute at WKU (CI at WKU) is very excited to partner with the Mayor’s office to support this event,” said the institute’s Terrill Martin. “Last year was the first year that the CI at WKU participated in the event, and it was phenomenal. We wanted to be a bigger presence this year, which is why we are a ‘Gold’ sponsor.
“What a great platform for us to share the Chinese culture and language to the communities we serve,” Martin said.
“Passport Health Plan is proud to once again sponsor the WorldFest event in downtown Louisville,” said Jill Bell, its Vice President, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer. “This amazing international festival highlights so many of the wonderful and diverse people who make Louisville such a fun and exciting place to live, work and play.”
In addition to music, food and dancing, other highlights include:
The festival includes a naturalization ceremony at 1 p.m. Friday, where more than 300 immigrants will become full U.S. citizens, and a colorful Parade of Cultures at noon on Saturday.
New this year, the children’s activities have expanded to include more than 20 interactive activities highlighting specific aspects of the Chinese culture like calligraphy lessons, fan painting and Tai Chi demonstrations. In addition, the Confucius Institute will have its Chinese Cultural Experience mobile unit on display in front of the Kentucky Center for the Arts. This 40-foot RV is retrofitted to serve as a Chinese museum on wheels.
Along with the Chinese Cultural Experience, the Global Human Project has registered more than 1,000 middle school and high school students to take part in the Walk-A-Mile in My Shoes Immigration Simulation on Friday, Sept. 1. Students will play the roles of immigrants and will encounter the hardships that are common to refugees.
On Sunday, Sept. 3, WorldFest will offer a Job Expo from 1 to 7 p.m. on the west lawn between The Kentucky Center and the Main Stage. This is a great opportunity for community members to connect with hiring managers from a number of employers in our area.
The International Festival and Events Association has recognized WorldFest as among the best in North America. In 2011, it was named a Top Ten Fall Festival by the Kentucky Travel Industry Association, and in 2015, the International Festival and Event Association named Louisville the Top Festival City in North America.
WorldFest is free to the public because of its generous sponsors. Signature Gold Sponsors: Western Kentucky University Confucius Institute and Passport Health Plan. Silver Sponsors: Kentucky Lottery and ValuMarket. Bronze Sponsors: The Muhammad Ali Center, Al Dia, Anthem Medicaid, CareSource, Ford/UAW, Stella Artois, and WLKY. Contributing Sponsors: Erie Insurance, El Kentubano, The Galt House Hotel, Global Human Project, The Home Depot, Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Louisville Public Media, Outfront Media and UPS.