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No footy, but culture fest brings the countries

In many ways, the annual Carnival of Cultures is a lot like the World Cup, but without that soccer.

In many ways, the annual Carnival of Cultures is a lot like the World Cup, but without that soccer.

At each game in South Africa, the stadium is packed with fans from the 32 competing nations, all dressed in their traditional colours, chanting and singing songs that inspire the players on the field.

The colours and the songs are a big part of the Carnival of Cultures, which hosted more than 400 performers, representing around 25 countries on stage this past weekend at Marion Dewar Plaza.

“This is where the world comes together every year, at the Carnival of Cultures,” said Mona Kiame, a longtime volunteer with the festival. “The general public ... comes in to enjoy the variety of cultures.”

The location of the festival this year is a bit of a homecoming for the festival. The inaugural Carnival of Cultures was held in front of city hall. Then it moved to the Astrolabe Theatre at Nepean Point for 15 years, before moving to the Vincent Massey Park bandstand for one year.

In February, the National Capital Commission informed organizers that the park would not be available again, due to stimulus fund-induced renovations.

“We had to try to find a site in the dead middle of festival season in Ottawa,” said Kiame. “The gods were on our side and this location was available. The location is great.”

 
 
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