A Passion for Culture
One of the reasons we travel is to learn about other countries and cultures. We all have traditions, new and old, and we love sharing our customs and learning others’. It is what makes us Global Citizens, and connects us with people around the world. Of course, it’s not always easy nor affordable to travel the globe to indulge this passion.
Living in a Melting Pot
Luckily, the TravelLatte home base is in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, a burgeoning complex of more than 50 cities and towns covering 13 counties in North Texas. It’s the fourth largest metropolitan area in the United States with more than 7-million people. And it’s growing at an alarming rate, having the highest year-over-year growth rate in the country in 2016.
We consider ourselves lucky to be located here because, among those 7-million souls are nationalities from around the world. Truly, DFW is a melting pot spiced with every flavor of humanity.
Celebrating Global Cultures
This mingled heritage is celebrated every October at the Plano International Festival. You can literally experience the world in a day, with crafts, activities, demonstrations and, thankfully, food! The main stage features performances ranging from martial arts to dancing and singing. More than 100 cultures are represented in booths throughout the grounds of Haggard Park in the historic downtown area of Plano. And this tour of the world is absolutely free.
We’ve written before about exploring the world through festivals in your own town. We find nothing more enlightening than meeting our neighbors and learning about the cultures and customs they bring to our country. Festivals like the Plano International Festival are a great opportunity to broaden horizons, learn about other countries and cultures, and have a great time doing it.
This year, we had the opportunity to practice French and Spanish with native speakers. We browsed (and purchased!) handmade jewelry, clothing and crafts, and delicious treats from Peru, Turkey, Argentina, and Pakistan (among others). We learned a bit more about Scotland, got a lesson in French furnishings, and watched Chinese calligraphy in the making. And we got to see faces beaming with enthusiasm when speaking of their faraway homes and cultures.
If you haven’t been attending any and every cultural festival you can find, you’re missing out. Whether it’s a church bazaar or community event, we urge you to go! Meet the world that lives in your neighborhood. We guarantee you won’t regret it.
About the Plano International Festival
2017 was the sixth year of the Plano International Festival, which takes place each October in Haggard Park. Its mission is to “educate, enlighten, and enrich the multicultural experience of all citizens” by celebrating Plano’s rich cultural diversity. It is an all-volunteer effort, showcasing Plano’s position as an international city.
(Video courtesy of the Plano International Festival.)
Children’s Global Village
The Plano International Festival is a great learning experience for the whole family. The Children’s Global Village has hands-on activities for kids, offered free of charge. The 2017 Festival had a focus on STEAM, promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. Children are also encouraged to complete their Festival Passport by visiting booths from representing different countries.
In association with the Plano Symphony Orchestra and Indie Meme, the Plano International Festival presented Song of Lahore at the nearby Courtyard Theatre. The film by Academy Award Winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Sndy Schocken follows a group of classical Pakistani musicians on their journey to perform Jazz standards on sitar and tabla with Wynton Marsalis at the Lincoln Center in New York.
Global Events Stage
The performance stage played a central role throughout the day, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies, a global fashion show, and a wide array of performances. Highlights included a mass U.S. Naturalization Ceremony, and a performance by the acclaimed Dallas Black Dance Academy.
Dance and performance groups included a Spanish Flamenco team, the Dallas Highland Dancers, the Ollin-Tonalzin Aztec Dancers, and dance performances representing Argentina, China, Egypt, India, Palestine, Peru, Poland, and the Ukraine.
This is one area of the festival that was disappointing. We were hoping for an opportunity to sample foods from around the world. Dallas is home to restaurants of every flavor and from every corner of the globe, so our hopes were high. Instead, we found that most American of traditions, Food Trucks. Sadly, it wasn’t even a good showing of trucks. Given the impressive Food Truck industry in North Texas, the options were limited.
While You’re There
Since you’re in historic downtown Plano, you should avail yourself of other things to do and see while in the area. The Haggard Park is home to the Interurban Railway Museum, which celebrates Dallas’ electric rail service of the early 1900s. (A service which rivals today’s mass transit!) The museum is open every day but Sunday, and admission is free.
Also at Haggard Park is the 1906 Saigling House, which has been recently renovated to an original-like state, and houses the Art Centre of Plano. Nearby, a block of historic buildings on 15th Street houses a variety of shops and restaurants.
Downtown Plano is at the center of the Plano Arts District as well. If you happen to visit on a Thursday between April and December, don’t miss the Art & Wine Walk. There are activities and events throughout the year, though.
The central area of downtown Plano is easily accessible. Haggard Park is located at East 15th Street and H Avenue, just a few blocks east of the North Central Expressway (US 75). It is roughly 20 miles north of downtown Dallas, 30 miles northeast of DFW Airport, or 50 miles northeast of downtown Fort Worth. There is limited parking nearby at the Police and Courts building, and the Plano Transit Village.
Conveniently, the park and historic downtown are adjacent to the Plano Transit Village. DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) trains serve the Downtown Plano station throughout the day, making it easily accessible from many areas around Dallas. From downtown Dallas, it’s about a 25-minute train ride. You can ride DART from DFW Airport as well, but the journey takes almost two hours (owing to the hub-and-spoke layout). However, the trip will take you past the American Airlines Center and Victory Park area, and into downtown Dallas, making it a great day-long excursion. (Ironically, it takes about the same time to take the train from downtown Fort Worth. Feel free to ask us for details in the comments, if interested in more information.)