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New festival celebrating culture, diversity, and unity coming to Virginia Beach

Organizers say World Culture Festival Hampton Roads is an exploration of people's differences in an effort to bring communities together.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — You don't have to travel the world to experience rich culture.

World Culture Festival Hampton Roads is a celebration of diversity around the globe.

The Art of Living Foundation, the International Association for Human Values, and other local groups are coming together to bring the event to the area for the first time.

"World Culture Festival aims to bring, like, all communities together and create, like, a more compassionate and harmonious society," Nitin Kakde with the Art of Living Foundation said.

The event will include more than two dozen cultural performances, and more than 30 ethnic and cultural organizations in Hampton Roads are scheduled to participate in the festivities.

Richele Dey with the Art of Living Foundation said it's a chance for communities to share their visions of unity, noting "it's a lot of separation and division going on amongst us."

Chantal Dejou with the Art of Living Foundation said a celebration of cultural differences like this is healthy for communities because it aims to teach people that "across their differences, beyond their differences, we are the same."

"People from all the community, tradition, culture, they come together, and they can celebrate," Sonali Kakde with the Art of Living Foundation said.

Festival booths and events put diverse music, art, food, dance, meditation techniques, and inspirational messages on display. 

"We want to create that sense of belongingness," Nitin Kakde said. "And you will notice that in each and every performance that we do, the speakers that we have, the well-being sessions, and the food made with a lot of love."

"Very interesting initiatives... will be highlighted to show the goodness of people in the grassroots in Hampton Roads, what they are doing, and inspiring, maybe, people to join them," Dejou said.

Over the past few years, communities worldwide have faced extraordinary challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dey said a celebration of resilience and harmony like the World Culture Festival Hampton Roads is needed to help people heal, calling it "a whole bunch of people from all walks of life, all different cultures, together in one setting just to have a great time."

Sonali Kakde said organizers want people to not only learn about different cultures but actively participate in festivities, "coming from the space of contributing to the society and making this world a better place."

Nitin Kakde hopes the World Culture Festival "sends the message across Hampton Roads that we are all one. We cannot just coexist, we can celebrate each other's diversity."

"Come and join us, and let's celebrate together," Kakde said.

World Culture Festival Hampton Roads is Saturday, March 25 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

Tickets are $5 in advance and $10 at the door. Children age 15 and under are free. Click here to purchase tickets.

To make a donation to World Culture Festival Hampton Roads, click here.

You can also find the festival and the Art of Living Foundation Hampton Roads on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

The festival is one of several events across the country leading up to the next international World Culture Festival in the fall. That event will be held in Washington, D.C. this year.

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