Nashua to host multicultural festival Sept. 15

NASHUA – The city, New Hampshire’s most racially and ethnically diverse, will celebrate with its initial Multicultural Festival next week.

The free event is set for noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 15 in the Elm Street Middle School cafeteria, 117 Elm St. It promises to showcase a blend of food, art, music, dance and artisans from all over the world who have chosen to call Nashua home.

“Nashua has the largest immigrant population in the state but has never had something like this,” said Deepa Mangalat, a member of the planning committee who helped model the festival toward similar events in New Hampshire.

“As the most-inclusive city in New Hampshire, Nashua has residents who represent many different cultures; this event is an opportunity to celebrate them,” Mayor Jim Donchess added.

In one room, visitors will be able to sample Lebanese cuisine from Cedars Cafe or Brazilian food from Gu-La Haven, watch a Japanese Wadaiko drumming demonstration, check out Irish step dancing and hear French accordion music.

A fashion show will feature models representing the dress of many cultures walking down the runway and artisans from countries around the globe will be selling clothing, jewelry, paintings and more.

The event is also family-friendly with cupcake cooking, face painting, henna tattoos, and arts and crafts for children.

Mangalat and other committee members have been planning the event since early February or March, she said, adding “we needed that kind of time” to plan such a significant event.

“When I joined the committee, I had no idea there were people from 76 different countries living in this town of ours,” she said, and noted that such diversity is vital to helping a community grow, but that everyone needs to be given opportunities.

“If a few are left behind, there is no way we can move forward,” Mangalat said of trying to make sure various populations “feel like they belong.”

This event will not only be fun and exciting, she said, but should also serve to showcase “all the immigrant community has to offer,” while also encouraging more hesitant, newer families to check out the Nashua community.

The Nashua Multicultural Festival is one of the city’s celebrations for Welcoming Week, an annual series of events during which communities bring together immigrants, refugees, and native-born residents to “raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming everyone,” city officials stated in a press release.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 84.6 percent of Nashua residents are considered “white alone.” This is significantly lower than New Hampshire’s statewide average of 93.8 percent.

This festival is also an opportunity to celebrate the two-year anniversary of Nashua becoming a Welcoming City.

There will be Nashua Transit System service to the event at the Nashua Transit Center, located behind City Hall on Elm Street, for those who would like to park for free in the Elm Street Garage. Passengers only need to say they’re attending the Nashua Multicultural Festival when they board the bus, according to the Mayor’s Office.

“We started this with a lot of enthusiasm and put our hearts into this,” Mangalat said. “I think it will be a good kickoff to Welcoming Week.”

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or