People dance at Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park.

Explore the World from St. Louis at Festival of Nations

Tuesday July 11, 2023

By Rachel Huffman

The beauty of St. Louis lies in the diversity of its people. At Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park, we celebrate the myriad cultures that make up the Gateway City, honoring each other’s individuality, rejoicing in our differences and cultivating a more prosperous region for all.

Bringing an energy that you can’t find anywhere else, Festival of Nations, produced by the International Institute of St. Louis, is the region’s largest multicultural event of the year, representing more than 75 nations, from Bosnia to Vietnam and Colombia to Egypt.

Originating in 1934, the two-day festival is open to the public and attended by more than 100,000 people. This year, it will take place on Aug. 26 and 27.

“Multiculturalism gives St. Louis a certain strength,” Krissy Durant, director of communications at the International Institute of St. Louis, says. “The presence of distinct cultures in our community makes it so much more vibrant, dynamic and resilient, and I love that we can all come together to honor that.”

Festival of Nations offers food from nations across the globe.
Photo courtesy of the International Institute of St. Louis

During the festival, you can ignite your senses with cuisines from around the world, dance to music spanning genres, shop international and local arts and goods and do it all with purpose.

“St. Louis celebrates multiculturalism year-round, but Festival of Nations is an explosive weekend where you can experience everything in one place,” Durant says. “In my opinion, this is one of the most important community events in St. Louis, and both residents and visitors are invited!”

Although Festival of Nations is free, guests can indulge in the ultimate VIP experience. Tickets provide access to the Piper Palm House – yes, it’s air-conditioned – a private bar, main stage viewing area, yard games and designated parking.

Mexican performers dance at Festival of Nations in St. Louis.
Photo courtesy of the International Institute of St. Louis

The International Institute of St. Louis has been serving immigrant and refugee populations for more than a century. Decades ago, it also took on an official role as a refugee resettlement agency.

“We work with the federal government to resettle refugees in St. Louis,” Durant says. “We help them find housing, learn English, enroll in school, acquire job skills and more. The goal is to provide services that treat the whole person, making sure new residents have what they need to not only survive but thrive, because we know that when one person in one community thrives, it has a positive effect on the entire region.”

Festival of Nations presents a unique opportunity to connect with people from contrasting backgrounds and celebrate the gifts that they bring to the St. Louis area.

“When people from different cultures gather to share food, music, art and traditions, we get to know each other on a deeper level,” Durant says. “We create a spirit of unity where every culture is seen as special and no culture is truly foreign.”