Unity and Diversity In D.C.: The World Culture Festival Kicks-Off
As the sun prepares to set on the bustling streets of Washington, D.C., a sense of anticipation fills the air. In just one week, the nation’s capital will be graced by a monumental event—the 2023 World Culture Festival. This three-day extravaganza, set to unfold from September 29 to October 1 on the hallowed grounds of the National Mall, promises to be an unparalleled celebration of unity and diversity.
An Unprecedented Gathering
Organized by the Art of Living Foundation, this year’s festival has already garnered an astonishing 450,000 registered attendees, setting the stage for what could be the largest celebration of its kind. Against the backdrop of the National Mall, a stage of epic proportions awaits over 17,000 cultural artists, entertainers, and speakers from diverse backgrounds, all ready to weave a tapestry of cultures and traditions.
A Vision Realized
The 2023 World Culture Festival marks the fourth installment of this global celebration, a dream realized through 42 years of tireless service by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a humanitarian of worldwide acclaim. At its core, the festival aims to provide a vibrant platform for celebrating our differences, echoing Gurudev’s call for a “One World Family.”
A Dazzling Lineup
Prepare to be captivated by a lineup that transcends borders and genres. Over 50 performances will grace the stage, offering a diverse range of experiences:
- A Chinese Extravaganza: A breathtaking performance featuring 1,000 singers, dancers, and majestic dragons.
- Garba Celebration: Join 7,000 dancers in a spirited celebration that encourages audience participation.
- Hip-Hop Legends: A tribute to the 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop, featuring icons like Kurtis Blow, SHA-Rock, Sequence Girls, DJ Kool, and 100 breakdancers.
- Indian Classical Elegance: Immerse yourself in the mesmerizing artistry of 700 Indian classical dancers accompanied by a live symphony.
- Ukrainian Dance Spectacle: Witness the lively Hopak performed by 100 Ukrainian dancers.
- Guitar Extravaganza: Let the harmonious melodies of 1,000 guitarists, led by Grammy Award winner Micki Free, enchant your senses.
- Global Harmony: Feel the unity in diversity as more than 150 nations come together through the official festival theme song, “Una Familia.”
- Reggae Reverie: Groove to the rhythms of Skip Marley, grandson of Bob Marley, culminating in the timeless classic “One Love.”
- American Pops Orchestra- America’s Own
- “America the Beautiful” and “Vande Mataram”: A choir of 250 high school students and 100 adults sing America the Beautiful and Vande Matram with Grammy-nominated artist Chandrika Tandon.
- Anka Dje Anka Be / Come Together in Unity: African Drums and Dance: Amadou Kouyate and his djembe and kora orchestra, accompanied by African dancers
- Arabian Nights: Middle Eastern Dance: Presented by the Sahara Dance, three dynamic segments with whirling tanoura, belly dance, and more from the Arabian Gulf, Egypt, and Lebanon
- Argentine Tango Sizzle: The captivating allure of the Argentine tango transports audiences back to the iconic 1920s era of Argentina
- Beats of Brazil: Batala and Martial Arts: 100 all-woman batala drum group unites with dancers and martial artists.
- Bhangra Dance Euphoria: Bhangra, a lively and vibrant dance form originating from Punjab, India
- Blessings Invocation: 250 high school students and 100 adults perform “United We Celebrate” with Grammy-nominated artist Chandrika Tandon
- Caribbean Carnival Showcase: A festive celebration of Caribbean music, culture, and joy, with dazzling costumes and a steel drum band
- Celebrating 50 Years of Hip Hop: Then & Now: Kurtis Blow, Sha-Rock, Sequence Girls and other hip hop legends perform, accompanied by 200 breakdancers, MC’s, DJ’s, with graffiti art by King Cre8 and Steve Cas
- Chenda Melam: Kerala Percussion Ensemble: Percussionists showcasing the beats and rhythms of Kerala, India
- Cosmic Chants: The Art of Living Bhajan Experience: Dive into a transcendent musical experience with ancient melodies by Bhanumathi Narasimhan and Bhavini Vyas
- Drums and Dance of Sri Lanka: A Spectacular Showcase
- East Meets West Global Dance Fusion: A dance battle like no other, an exciting fusion of contemporary ballet, Hip Hop, African dance, and Bollywood.
- Flavors of Bolivia: Vibrant folk dances from Bolivia’s diverse traditions, including Morenada, Caporales, and Tinku
- Folk Dances of Albania: 100 Albanian performers dance in a celebration of Albania’s rich heritage
- Folk Rhythms of the Andes: Experience the richness of vibrant, graceful folk dances from Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia
- Garba Dancers for Unity: 10,000 garba dancers dance around the National Mall in a spirit of celebration with live singing from Grammy Award Winner- Falu Shah
- Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC: Uplifting vocals from one of the nation’s first LGBT choral organizations
- Global Guitar Ensemble: Popular sing-along classics and an original anthem with renowned lead guitarists, including Grammy-award winners
- Go Go Performance: The stage will come alive with the infectious energy of DJ Kool and the soulful vibes of Junkyard Band and Sirius company.
- Heart of Ukraine: Folk Music and Dance: Exhilarating acrobatics and vibrant footwork of the hopak, a traditional Ukrainian dance
- Howard University “Showtime” Marching Band: Howard University Showtime Band inaugurating the festival parading down the National Mall
- “I Belong 2 U” Youth Chorus: Pop influencer Jini June with 100 children, spreading a message of harmony
- International Band Segment: electrifying pop R&B mashup by international bands including Weston Estate bands
- Iranian Folk Orchestra: Inspired by Rumi, uplifting folk dance set to ancient love songs and traditional instruments.
- Irish Step Dance: Lively Irish dancers in traditional dress showcasing the rich traditions of the Emerald Isle
- Jazz with the U.S. Army Blues: From “Pershing’s Own,” prepare for an electrifying jazz performance by the U.S. Army Blues.
- Kashmiri Rhapsody: Vibrant dance highlighting the heritage and traditions of Kashmir, India
- Living Traditions: Dances of Israel: A brief, moving musical voyage through the history of Israel, culminating in a celebratory “Hora” dance
- Mika Singh: songs of celebration
- Mongolian Extravaganza: Vibrant dance and music highlighting the heritage and nomadic traditions of Mongolia
- Music and Dance from Thailand
- Mystical Afghan Melodies: Whirling dervishes spin to the captivating melodies of a symphony of traditional musicians.
- Nadhaswaram Oboe Symphony: The harmonious sounds of nadhaswarm, a classical South Indian oboe
- National Anthem by the U.S. Army Chorus and Youth Choirs: An inspiring rendition of our national anthem with the elite Army Chorus and award-winning DMV high school choirs
- Native American Dance, Drums, and Land Acknowledgement: A Native American blessing and acknowledgement of the landbyelders of the Piscataway and Lakota Tribes, followed by 100 Native American dancers and drummers
- Panchabootham: Indian Symphony and Classical Dance: The five elements will be represented through a symphony of250 instrumentalists including sitar, veena, tabla, mridangam, flute, ghatam and violin, plus 600 dancers performing a variety of classical Indian dance styles.
- Peace Chants: Shanti Mantras in Sanskrit: 200 children chant for peace in Sanskrit with Grammy- nominated artist Chandrika Tandon
- Reggae Rhythms with Skip Marley: An iconic reggae performance by Skip Marley, Bob Marley’s grandson, culminating in the classic “One Love”
- Rhythms of LATAM: A fusion of traditional folk dances from Honduras, Panama, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic
- Slavic Celebration: Experience a captivating showcase of Slavic culture, encompassing a rich array of dances and cultural heritage
- Soul of Japan: Traditional Dance and Music: Classical performers embody a centuries-old tradition of elegance and storytelling through movement.
- Sounds of the Swiss Alps: Elegant harmonies of Swiss alphorns, the original wooden wind instrument of Switzerland
- Songs and Smiles: A 1,000 Person Celebration of Chinese Culture: Chinese classical choir, classical dancers, dragons, lions and kung-fu in a fusion of music and movement
- “The Circle of Life” with Alex Boyé and the African All-stars: African dancers and an inspired choir perform this classic broadway song with Alex Boyé.
- Thousand-Voice Gospel Choir: Soul-stirring live gospel led by local legends Joyce Garrett and Rickey Payton
- Traditional Korean Dance: 60 Dancers representing the traditional art of Korea.
- Traditional Dances and Melodies of Nepal: Dancers in vibrant costumes, representing the spiritual traditions of Nepal
- Una Familia: WCF Official Theme Song
- U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own”: A world-class military band inaugurating the festival with pomp and circumstance
- With Love from Pakistan: Music, Dance and Ecstasy: Pakistani folk dancers, Sufi poetry, and “Dhamaal” folk music
- Wonderful Indonesia: Indonesian dancers representing the country’s eight provinces
- Wonders of Bulgaria: 300 artists dance to the soul-stirring melodies of Bulgarian singers.
- “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” Choir: A 300-artist choir with Indian classical artist Sujata Ghanekar
- Viva Mexico: A Mariachi celebration of song and dance
A Festival for All Ages
The best part? Registration is entirely free, and people of all ages are welcome to join in the festivities. Dive into the full festival experience and find detailed information at this link.
A Weekend Packed with Joy
The festival’s schedule is brimming with activities for every taste:
Friday, September 29
- 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm: Festival Village – Explore a vibrant stretch between 7th St and 14th St NW, featuring cultural pavilions, fashion showcases, and over 80 international food trucks.
- 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm: Main Stage World Culture Festival Showcase.
Saturday, September 30
- 8:00 am – 9:30 am: Yoga – Journey Within – Join 2,000 yoga enthusiasts in front of the Lincoln Memorial for a unique experience, followed by a special meditation session with Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
- 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm: Festival Village.
- 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm: Main Stage World Culture Festival Showcase.
Sunday, October 1
- 10:00 am – 1:00 pm: Festival Village.
- 9:30 am – 1:00 pm: Main Stage World Culture Festival Showcase.
Global Voices of Peace
The festival serves as a platform for world leaders to renew their commitment to global peace, emphasizing diversity and nonviolence. Expect inspiring messages from luminaries like H.E. Ban Ki-Moon, H.E. Prithvirajsing Roopun, H.E. Rosalía Arteaga Serrano, and more, representing various nations and backgrounds.
Global Leadership Forum
On Saturday, September 30, from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm, over 1,000 leaders from diverse sectors will convene at the Global Leadership Forum (GLF). Here, they will exchange ideas and forge partnerships to tackle pressing global challenges under the theme “Shaping a Humane Future.” Renowned figures like Mike Perlis and Tim Draper will deliver inspirational keynotes.
A Cultural Showcase for the Ages
The festival’s diverse lineup spans over 50 performance groups, representing cultures from around the world. From the American Pops Orchestra and Caribbean Carnival Showcase to Irish Step Dance and Slavic Celebration, there’s something to enthrall every soul.
Festival Village Activities
- Meditation Oasis: Delve into relaxation and inner peace through activities like breathwork, meditation, sound baths, art, drawing, painting, and Ayurveda tips.
- Kids Zone: Engage children and youths with crafts, breathwork, and meditation.
- Ripple Effect: Embark on a guided tour showcasing the remarkable achievements of programs offered by the Art of Living Foundation and the International Association for Human Values (IAHV).
Local hotels have partnered with the festival to offer exclusive room rates for attendees. Find complete visitor information here.
Join us in celebrating the rich tapestry of our world at the 2023 World Culture Festival. Together, let’s embrace unity, diversity, and peace in an unforgettable celebration that transcends borders and cultures.