The Sacramento region – one of the most integrated and diverse in the nation, according to U.S. Census data – is truly a window on the world. You can experience a broad range of cultures, tastes and traditions in our own backyard. Here’s a sampling of ethnic regional events open to the public:
Vietnamese Tet Festival
The Tet Festival is a celebration of the Vietnamese New Year based on the lunar calendar that the nonprofit Vietnamese American Community of Sacramento celebrates over several days, starting with firecrackers and a sit-down feast. In recent years, a Saturday and Sunday festival and street carnival that includes food vendors and live entertainment (at the corner of Stockton Boulevard and Florin Road in Sacramento) has attracted more than 25,000 people each day. In late 2014, check vacos.org for 2015 dates and activities.
Chinese New Year Festival and Parade
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The Chinese New Year Cultural Association in Sacramento will be hosting its 18th annual New Year’s party in 2015. Each year, the party gets a little bigger, so check cnyca.net for updates and schedule near the end of this year. The site is in Chinese but has a Google translation to English.
Bok Kai Festival
The 134th annual Bok Kai Festival and “Bomb Day” will take place March 1-2 at the Bok Kai Temple in Marysville. The festival pays homage to the Chinese water god, Bok Kai. “Bomb Day” is a celebration involving homemade firecrackers. For more information, go to bokkaiparade.com.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
More than 1,000 marchers – including bagpipers and Irish dancers in elaborate Celtic costumes – and 15,000 people turned out last year for the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Old Sacramento. This year’s parade will kick off at 1 p.m. March 15 at 2nd and L streets. For more information, go to oldsacramento.com/special-events/st-patricks-day-parade.
Pacific Rim Street Fest
To honor and celebrate the growing Asian Pacific population of the Sacramento region, restaurateur Frank Fat and community leaders created the Pacific Rim Street Fest in 1993. The one-day festival features art, entertainment and food that reflect Asian Pacific culture and has grown to include more than 15 Asian Pacific community groups and hundreds of volunteers. The festival will take place this year from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 18 in Old Sacramento and the Downtown Plaza.
The Filipino Fiesta is held every first Sunday of June – June 1 this year – at the Jose Rizal Community Center, 7320 Florin Mall Drive, Sacramento, to celebrate Philippine Independence Day. Highlights include a beauty pageant, a parade, traditional Filipino food such as lumpia, halo-halo and pancit and live entertainment. For more information, go to sactofiesta.org.
Said to be the largest Croatian event in Northern California, this two-day event – June 7 and 8 – is highlighted by Croatian food, music, singers and dancers from the Croatian community in California as well as entertainers from Croatia. Food includes barbecued lamb and pork, smoked Croatian sausage as well as salads and pastries served in a park-like setting at the Croatian American Cultural Center, 3730 Auburn Blvd., Sacramento. For more information, go to http://www.cacc.com/Extravaganza.php.
Since 2001, Sacramento’s Juneteenth Festival has celebrated and educated the region about one of America’s most important acts of legislation: The Emancipation Proclamation, signed into law in 1863, declared that all those enslaved were now free. This year’s festival will take place June 20-22 at William Land Park, 3800 Land Park Drive, Sacramento. Event highlights include a gospel concert, live jazz music, a parade, entertainment for children – including a magic show and face painting – and food and arts and crafts vendors. For more information, go to sacramentojuneteenth.com.
Japanese Food & Cultural Bazaar
Started in 1947 to mark the beginning of the Buddhist Church of Sacramento Bazaar as Japanese Americans rebuilt their community following their forced evacuation from the West Coast by executive order during World War II, the bazaar has grown from a social event primarily for church members to a two-day event that attracts more than 40,000 people each year to sample Japanese food (more than 10,000 pounds of chicken teriyaki is served each year), culture and entertainment in mid-August at the Buddhist Church of Sacramento, 2401 Riverside Blvd., Sacramento. For more information, go to www.buddhistchurch.com/events/Bazaar.htm.
‘Weekend in Greece’
This one is in Elk Grove and smaller than the annual Greek Festival held over Labor Day Weekend at the Sacramento Convention Center but has a more homegrown vibe to it. The three-day festival, Sept. 26-28 at Saint Katherine Greek Orthodox Church, 9165 Peets St., Elk Grove, features Greek dancing, music and costumes, along with Greek food. For more information, go to saintkatherine.org/foodfestival.
Sponsored by the Sacramento Italian Society, the two-day festival features Italian wine, beer, food and music, singers from Italy, bocce games, games and rides for children and an Italian car, bicycle and motor scooter show. The event – Aug. 2 and 3 – takes place at the Croatian Center, 3730 Auburn Blvd., Sacramento. For more information, go to Italiancenter.net.
Armenian Food Festival
Started in 1947, this one-day festival in early fall features traditional Armenian foods such as shish kebab, pilaf and kufta and Armenian music and folk dancing. The St. James Armenian Church hosts the festival at the Greek Hellenic Hall, 614 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento. For more information, go to stjamessacramento.org, click events.
Serbian Food Festival
The one-day event in October features roasted meats, a variety of salads and beverages, homemade pastries and music and folk dancers. The event takes place at the Serbian Orthdox Church of the Assumption, 7777 Sunset Ave., Fair Oaks. For updates and more information, go to sacserbchurch.org/sac.
Sikh Parade and Festival
The 35th annual Sikh Parade and Festival will be held Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in Yuba City. The festival commemorates the Guru Gaddee inauguration holiday of Sikhism’s holy scripture, Siri Guru Granth Sahib, as the everlasting guru of the Sikhs, and attracts Sikhs from throughout the nation, as well as others from the region. Last year, an estimated 80,000 people attended the event, which features a 4.5-mile parade through Yuba City, food, fireworks and a bazaar selling Sikh clothing and goods. For more information, go to on.fb.me/1kfDlsL.
Hmong New Year Festival
Started in 2004, the festival is held for several days around Thanksgiving at Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento, to showcase Hmong food and culture. The event features a Miss Hmong California pageant, folk dancers and music, vendors selling traditional Hmong clothing and other goods. For more information, go to sacramentohmongnewyear.com.