Eat, drink and dance your way through these 11 International Festivals


Whether you're up for sipping Armenian coffee, munching on lumpia, or dancing the hora, here are 11 great ways to celebrate the Sacramento region's cultural diversity from now through October. 

Brazilian Arts & Cultural Dance Festival

Aug. 28 Even though the Rio Olympics have come to a close, this fourth annual festival will continue the celebration of Brazil’s food, music and dance in midtown Sacramento. Nab a bowl of moqueca de camaroes (Brazilian shrimp stew) or a savory chicken and rice dish and watch drumming and dancing groups take the stage. To honor the Olympic Games, adults and kids can channel their inner Neymar during a soccer penalty shoot-out competition. Free. 1-7 p.m. 20th St. between J and K streets. 588-5463.

Sacramento Greek Festival

Sept. 2-4 Head to the Sacramento Convention Center for this big, fat Greek fiesta. Learn traditional Greek dances like the Kalamatiano (a 12-step circle dance where everyone joins hands), or roll up your sleeves for hands-on cooking demonstrations on how to manipulate phyllo dough to make delicious traditional treats like baklava and spanakopita (a flaky pocket stuffed with spinach and cheese). As always, there will be no shortage of Greek foods to feast upon—yearly favorites include moussaka (a layered eggplant and beef dish) and the doughnut-like loukoumades. $5. Hours vary by day. Sacramento Convention Center. 1400 J St.

Mediterranean Food and Music Festival

Sept. 17-18 This 12th annual festival will offer a wide assortment of authentic Mediterranean fare, including stuffed grape leaves, gyros with lamb, fresh vegetarian dishes like falafel, hummus and tabouli, and sugared doughnuts for dessert. Middle Eastern vocalist Nader Zaki will perform Arabic songs with his band on Saturday, and this year’s admission proceeds will support the music and jazz program at West Sacramento's River City High School. $3. Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday 12-7 p.m. Holy Virgin Mary Church. 3060 Jefferson Blvd. 955-4736.

Jewish Food Faire

Sept. 18 Jewish fare is the star at this 39th annual food festival in Carmichael. Nosh on chicken matzo ball soup, noodle kugel, pastrami sandwiches and breads like rye and pumpernickel straight from delis in Los Angeles and New York. This year, the faire is introducing brisket sandwiches and vegetarian options like homemade hummus with vegetables and mushroom soup. Burn some calories by learning the hora, or line dance to beats by local DJ Terry Press-Dawson. Plus, browse art booths, book stalls and take premade and frozen food home for later. Free. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Congregation Beth Shalom. 4746 El Camino Ave. Carmichael. 485-4478.

A drum line at the Brazilian Arts & Cultural Dance Festival

Safari on the River

Sept.18 Held at Juluka Landing along the Sacramento River, this safari-themed evening soirée will feature African singers and dancers, and present an auction of items like African art and turquoise jewelry, as well as a chance to win a Hawaiian vacation. Get your fill of eats like curried tomato jam, black-eyed bean dip with sweet potato chips, North African couscous and meatballs, and Senegalese lemon chicken. Hosted by the African Hope Fund, this annual fundraiser benefits conservation and education efforts in Africa. $100. 4-7:30 p.m. Juluka Landing. 1951 Garden Hwy. 769-3643.

Romanian Festival

Sept. 24 Immerse yourself in Romanian culture during this free, full-day event in Roseville filled with traditional music, fare and entertainment. Food stalls will be filled with delicacies like the smoked sausage known as mici (pronounced “meech”), cabbage rolls and over 20 varieties of homemade pastries, including sweet bread filled with walnuts and raisins. Sway and clap to traditional Romanian folk dances and other performances, then meander through a marketplace with authentic art and clothing on display, like embroidered blouses and quilts. Free. 12-7 p.m. 190 Park Dr. Roseville. 604-6707.

Aloha Festival

Oct. 1 At this annual fair celebrating the culture of Pacific islands like Hawaii, Tahiti and Samoa, sample traditional fare like Kalua pulled pork, shaved ice and Spam musubi, then learn to strum a ukulele or thread flowers into ceremonial leis at interactive workshops. Two stages will feature music and dance performances from groups like the Kapalakiko band, hula troupe Halau Makana Lani and the Sacramento dance group Aloha Polynesia. Wee ones can head to the Keiki Corner, where they can play games, dress up in traditional island garb and join story time. Free ($10 for parking). 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Cal Expo. 1600 Exposition Blvd.

Sacramento Scandinavian Festival

Oct. 1 Community organizations representing Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland will come together for this 33rd annual festival in Orangevale, which will offer a Viking dress-up station complete with swords and helmets, fiddle and accordion music and traditional Scandinavian folk dancers. Watch the flag ceremony at noon and take your pick from a smorgasbord of fare, including a literal smörgås (open-faced sandwich) of toast with avocado and lox, along with Finnish salmon soup, Swedish pancakes and traditionally light-roasted Scandinavian coffee. $5. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 9079 Greenback Ln. Orangevale.

Egyptian Festival

Oct. 1-2 Walk like an Egyptian through this two-day festival in Roseville, featuring live music from local bands and an interactive exhibit with mysterious facts about pharaohs, hieroglyphics and the pyramids. Eat like an Egyptian too, with items like fried falafel and lamb kabobs, while kids get their faces painted, jump around in bounce-house castles and walk on water in inflatable spheres. Free. Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church. 200 Cirby Way. Roseville.

A bake sale at the Sacramento Scandinavian Festival

Filipino Family Festival

Oct. 8 Gather the family and head to Elk Grove Regional Park for this festival commemorating Filipino culture and food. Feast on barbecued pork on a stick, along with popular fried lumpia filled with beef, chicken or vegetables. A morning family fun run will kick off the event, and Los Angeles based Filipino-American rock band Introvoys will perform to celebrate the release of their 2016 album, Where We Left Off. Free. 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Elk Grove Regional Park. 9950 Elk Grove Florin Rd. Elk Grove.

Armenian Food Festival

Oct. 22 Held in the Sacramento area since 1947, this festival brings homemade food, art and Armenian culture to Sacramento. Expect traditional offerings liked lamb shish kebabs, lahmacun pizza, stuffed grape leaves and filo dough cheese pastries. Sip fresh Armenian coffee prepared in small batches, then ask someone at the coffee station to read your fortune from the grounds at the bottom of your cup. Kids’ dance groups and choirs will perform throughout the day, and a DJ will spin folk songs and pop music into the evening. Free until 5 p.m. $5 afterward. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. 2620 Capitol Ave.

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