Carrousel of the Nations originated in June 1974, when the Arts Committee of Windsor, with the help of a $3,500 grant from the Ministry of Culture and Recreation, presented Windsor’s inaugural Multicultural Festival.
Held at St. Clair College’s Patterson Campus, the first Multicultural Festival was comprised of three days of folk arts, crafts and foods and saw the participation of 27 groups. The weekend’s finale featured a concert at the former Cleary Auditorium with eighteen groups performing to an audience of over 800. The festival was regarded as a tremendous success and inspired what we today know as the Carrousel of the Nations.
The following year, with co-operation from the Freedom Festival, a downtown bazaar was held in the Cleary Auditorium parking lot featuring fourteen ethnic food booths together with a large exhibit of cultural artifacts. In 1976, the Ontario Government announced a cultural grants program inviting groups to submit their proposals for the Cultural Olympics.
Formal planning began in February 1976, and the weekend of June 11th was confirmed along with the concept of separate ethno-cultural villages. There are numerous events leading up to the annual Carrousel which takes place during the last three weekends in June each year.
In 1999, an Expo to the World was held at Windsor’s Festival Plaza with the Detroit River and its magnificent skyline as the backdrop. This event gathered together ethno-food, music, dance, arts and crafts in one place giving birth to Expo by the River a preview and prelude to the annual Carrousel of the Nations. Since then, the Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County changed the name of Expo to Carousel by the River to merge the two events as one.
2019 Marks the 44th year of the famed Carrousel of the Nations, making it the longest running festival in Windsor, and the oldest cultural festival in all of Ontario. Carrousel stands above the crowd as a cultural and ethnic celebration, having received numerous awards including ranking on Ontario’s Top 100 festival list for more than 11 years.
We are proud that Carrousel is more than a festival – it is a celebration of cultural identity, showcase, and exchange; a chance for us to recognize the things that make us each unique- that add to our collective flavour. In that spirit, our 2018 theme was “First in Flavour” – a nod to each nation’s distinct taste through their music, dress, dance, and most importantly – food.
This year, we place an emphasis on responsibilities that we have as a community to respect the heritage and history of generations that came before us. For 2019, the theme is “Celebrating Culture, Treasuring Tradition”; a call to honour our customs, our pasts, and our roots.
In order to best recognize the full breadth of cultural influence and presence in our region, the MCC is excited to announce that in 2019 Carrousel of the Nations will include four villages in Leamington.
Representing many of the cultures who make the north shore of Lake Erie such a vibrant and diverse place, we are pleased to welcome villages from the Caldwell First Nations, Italian, Lebanese, and Mexican communities. These new villages will operate in Leamington during the established Carrousel dates on June 15th and will feature the same great demonstrations of culture, music, and food that Carrousel visitors have come to expect.
Recollections of Carrousel are embedded in the memories of generations in our region, proving that this IS one of Canada’s most multicultural and welcoming communities.
A signature event of the Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex, Carrousel of the Nations is an opportunity to showcase the many wonderful elements that multiculturalism has brought to Windsor and Essex County.