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Irvine Global Village Festival to showcase world cultures

The events begin Saturday at 9 a.m. with the Walk for Unity. Diversity awareness will be explored through as many avenues as possible.

September 27, 2012|By Candice Baker
  • The Jewels that Raq perform at a previous Irvine Global Village Festival.
The Jewels that Raq perform at a previous Irvine Global… (Courtesy City of…)

"He who is different from me does not impoverish me — he enriches me. Our unity is constituted in something higher than ourselves — in Man ... For no man seeks to hear his own echo, or to find his reflection in the glass." - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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An annual event will seek once again to promote understanding between cultures in a festive, family-friendly atmosphere Saturday.

The Irvine Global Village Festival, the city's flagship event, saw more than 20,000 attendees last year. Since its humble start in 1998 as the Multicultural Festival, the event has grown to the point of receiving a 2012 City Cultural Diversity Award from the National League of Cities for its collaborative efforts in promoting cross-cultural understanding.

Diversity awareness will be explored through as many avenues as possible at the festival, including cuisine, arts and entertainment, education, a marketplace, religion, activities and community involvement.

"We are having some wonderful entertainment and welcoming a couple new countries to the exhibit area: Brazil, Egypt and Sudan," said Mya Sanders, city cultural arts and activities superintendent. "We have close to 50 restaurants and we have expanded the peace and anti-violence area to include more mural painting and origami peace cranes for the kids."

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The Humanity Unites-hosted Walk for Unity is slated to begin at 9 a.m., while the festival itself runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Logistics this year require that visitors park offsite and use free shuttles from UC Irvine, Main Street and Jamboree Road, and Woodbridge Community Park. Bicycling also is encouraged, with a free bike valet service offered.

More shuttles have been added to assist with the expected increase in demand, Sanders said. Handicapped parking will be available onsite at the San Juan or Civic Center parking lots.

Event organizers also strive to make the festival sustainable, with a focus on reducing, reusing and recycling as much as possible, with the eventual goal of being a zero-waste festival.

Five stages will host 100 live performances this year, ranging from Persian dance and ballet folklórico to English stiltwalkers and Korean drummers. Activity organizations will include taekwondo, muay thai, kung fu and karate; Indian dance; belly dance; capoeira; ballroom dance; and Chinese folk dance.

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