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Festival of Nations: Take a trip in your own town


Food, dancing, art demonstrations, exotic crafts and more. The Festival of Nations draws a crowd year after year because it is what it promises to be: a combined celebration of many cultures, traditions and lands. This year, there will be 90 different ethnic groups represented from around the world. They will be sharing their food, with over 37 different cafes serving over 300 specialties; their crafts, with more than 35 artists demonstrating their skill; and their traditions, with more than 60 booths offering educational and cultural exhibits focused on this year's theme of Folklore, Legends and Heroes.

Highlights for 2010 include the new ExploraDome, sponsored by the Minnesota Planetarium Society. It is a 25-foot enclosed dome that will "bring the whole universe to the Festival." Visitors can explore the constellations and the many legends and different folklore of the sky that grew out of different cultures.

Also, on Friday, April 30, there will be a group naturalization ceremony for new citizens at 6pm.

Entertainment will be available on three stages throughout the Festival of Nations. Folk dance groups from the Ethnic Dance Theatre, as well as other folk dance groups, will represent cultures from around the world in the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Musicians from all over the world will also be playing on the other two stages throughout the hours of the Festival.

The demonstrations available will truly take your breath away. Everything from Viking Age Crafts to Somali Finger Weaving, from Czechoslovak Egg Decorating to Chinese Calligraphy, Irish Harp Making to Lakota Sioux Shielf Making will be available this years. There are several new crafts represented, so if you think you've seen this before, try again.

The Festival of Nations is presented by the International Institute of Minnesota and has been going on since 1932. It is billed as "The largest and longest-running multicultural festival in Minnesota." Over the years, as the fabric of Minnesota has changed, the Festival has grown and changed with it. Come on over and see for yourself; you won't be disappointed. Share your favorite things about the Festival of Nations in the comments below!

For more info: The Festival of Nations is held at RiverCentre in downtown Saint Paul. Tickets are only $12 for adults and $7 for children (ages 5-16). The Festival is open to the public on Friday, April 30 from 4pm to 10pm; Saturday, May 1, from 10am to 10pm and Sunday, May 2 from 10am to 10pm. It is open only to student groups on Thursday and Friday during the day. You can call the front desk of the International Institute beginning today (Tuesday) to order tickets by phone with a credit card and they will put them at the will-call window for you at RiverCentre. The number is 651-647-0191 ext. 0.


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