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Frisco STYLE Magazine

Enjoy the Sight, Sounds and Tastes of the World in North Texas!

It’s no secret that the DFW metroplex is a culturally diverse area that attracts people from all over the world. What is perhaps less well known is that many of those cultures come together every October for a multicultural celebration right in north Texas at the annual Plano International Festival. 

Happening in downtown Plano’s Haggard Park, the festival features continuous multicultural music and dance performances, cultural displays, ethnic food trucks, a global art exhibit and much more. Kids can enjoy hands-on art and science activities and even tour the country booths with their own festival passport. And visitors who come early can benefit from free health screenings and fitness demos in the festival’s Wellness Fair and Fitzone. There is truly something for everyone at this multifaceted event, and admission and parking are always free. This year’s event is on Saturday, October 14 from 11am to 5pm, and the Wellness Fair is from 10am to 1pm. Haggard Park is at 15th and Ave H in downtown Plano, and the Wellness Fair is in the Courtyard Theater just across the park on Ave H.

While the park is still being transformed into a mini United Nations, the Courtyard Theater is buzzing with activity as visitors line up at 10am for free health screenings in the Wellness Fair. Local providers will offer free flu shots, dental screenings and eye exams, plus screenings for blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol and even bone density. There will also be a blood drive, COVID booster shots, CPR lessons, HIV testing, and free personal hygiene bags. All services are free of charge.

Also starting at 10am is the Fitzone, located next to the Saigling House which is nestled in the northwest corner of the park. Local fitness coaches will demonstrate yoga, pilates, and more while visitors can join in and learn new ways to get fit.

 Festivities begin in the park at 11am with a very unique experience--the area’s only outdoor naturalization ceremony. It begins with a parade of flags through the tree-lined paths and ends with the candidates taking their oath of citizenship. Since the festival began nearly 20 years ago, over 800 people have become new citizens there, a remarkable achievement. 

 After the ceremony wraps up, the music and dancing begins! Local cultural groups bring their unique traditions to the stage in a colorful, swirling display of grace, beauty and energy. Dances hail from Europe, Latin America and Asia and many groups welcome children and adults on stage to learn some of the dances.

 An international fashion show brings more color and drama to the stage with a dazzling array of cultural dress. Visitors can learn about each culture’s traditional clothing and what makes them unique as each representative group shows their beautiful attire.

 Cultural displays are a huge attraction. Visitors can learn about the art and handicrafts of global cultures and shop for special treasures. Many community organizations participate to educate visitors about their services. And kids will get a special festival passport to get stamped at the country booths. 

 Education is woven throughout the festival, especially for children. They can learn about STEAM--science, technology, engineering, art and math--with robotics and science experiments, and they can do hands-on craft activities in the children’s area. 

 Food trucks are a major attraction and feature festival favorites such as funnel cakes and corn dogs plus specialties from Cajun to Korean, Haitian and more!

 North Texas is rich with artistic talent, and many original works by local artists will be on display in the festival’s Global Reflections art exhibit. Sponsored by the Plano Art Association, the exhibit showcases the work of professional and amateur artists who hail from different backgrounds which they explore and share through their art. The theme of the exhibit, Art: The Universal Language, gives festival attendees another lens through which they can experience and appreciate other cultures. The exhibit will be on display at the Courtyard Theater daily from September 6 to October 15. An opening reception will be held on the evening of Wednesday, September 27 at 7pm. The event is free and all are welcome to enjoy the art and meet the artists at this intimate event.

 Just as the on-stage performances wrap up in the park, another cultural showcase will take place at the Courtyard Theater--Dancing with the Symphony. The festival partners with the Plano Symphony Orchestra to bring cultural dances to life with live accompaniment by a PSO ensemble. This year’s Dancing with the Symphony program will feature Irish dance, modern ballet and Indian fusion dancing. This is the only portion of the festival that requires a ticket and proceeds benefit the PSO’s scholarship fund which provides free private music lessons for PISD students. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at

 Another theme that underpins the festival is sustainability. The festival strives to be a Zero Waste Event through multiple tactics. It supplies all food vendors with biodegradable serveware, including utensils, cups and plates, and Styrofoam is prohibited. All waste is gathered in separate bins for recycling, composting, and landfill disposal. Team of Green Ambassadors man each waste station to help visitors properly sort their waste. The program has won numerous awards and regularly diverts over 80% of waste from landfill, an impressive achievement for a large-scale outdoor event.

 North Texas is a very vibrant community made up of a rich tapestry of cultures, and the Plano International Festival is an exciting way to experience and appreciate that diversity. The festival is run entirely by community volunteers who have a passion for diversity. It was founded in 2004 as an offshoot of an advisory board to the Plano city council, the Multicultural Outreach Roundtable (MCOR). MCOR was established to bring diverse voices of the community together to advise the city on each group’s needs and help foster communication and understanding between those groups. Their first initiative was to bring the whole community together to celebrate the area’s amazing diversity through a multicultural celebration. Local cultural groups were invited to showcase their unique traditions via dances, displays and food, and thus the Plano International Festival was born.

The festivities are not limited to just one day in October. Every month, the festival hosts cultural pop-up events at the Legacy West shopping and dining district where they invite cultural groups to perform and celebrate various holidays and heritage celebrations. The September event will celebrate Hispanic Heritage month with dances from Colombia and October will celebrate Polish heritage with Polish dancing. These pop-up events mainly take place on the first Thursday of every month during Legacy West’s popular Happy Hour Hike where visitors can stroll along Windrose Avenue while enjoying cocktails from participating restaurants. The festival’s Facebook page and website provide further details on dates, times and themes each month.