6 Fun Ways to Make the Most of an International Festival


We continue our journey through this summer’s festivals around Seattle. When my sister was in town a couple of weeks ago we headed to DragonFest 2012 in the International District. With my niece Lilou, Dek and Ty along for the ride I picked up a few tips that could help us not only at future festivals but also in our travels around the world. After all, there is no better place to practice for your next adventure then in your own backyard.

Try the food. 

Unfamiliar foods abound at international festivals. Pick at least one thing you have never had. Make it fun so the whole family will want to try it. Kids love Italian pasta dishes? Try some soba noodles. All about your Taco Tuesdays at home? Grab a Peking duck taco on a steamed rice bun. The squishy texture is guaranteed to elicit a few giggles.

Kalua Pork Sliders (top left), Takoyaki, Sweet Potato Fries & a Peking Duck Taco

Free samples make everyone happy

BBQ Pork Pastry with Sesame (top left), Pork Dumplings & Dim Sum Sticky Rice

Dance a little. 

Performances were scheduled throughout the weekend at Dragon Fest. We happened upon an Indian dance demonstration. My sister grabbed my niece and they joined the crowd. Lilou wowed the audience with her tiny hip shakes and hand waving, even if she was a little out of sync with the rest of the revelers.

Say hi to a few characters. 

You just never know who will show up at these things. Anime enthusiasts of all ages milled about as they waited for the costume contest to begin. We recognized a few of our favorite characters from beloved series. Dek was just excited to see so many swords. And no, we did not give into the pleas to buy him one. You may call me a bad parent now.

Pick up a new language. 

At every turn you can hear other languages being spoken in the International District. Of course this would spill over into Dragon Fest. Older members of the community sat around chatting. Menus highlighted dishes we had never heard of in a language we didn’t know. It was easy to ask a fellow festival attendee or vendor for a few pronunciation tips if we need them.

Grab some trinkets. 

After eating, street festivals mean shopping in my book. Vendors come out of the woodwork selling everything from panda hats and sushi key chains, to bonsai trees and bracelets. Some stalls had merchandise that was so reminiscent of our time in China that I had to remind myself what country we were in.

Don’t forget the sweets!

No matter what city or event we are at you will never hear me turn down a sugar-filled treat. It is my favorite way to explore a new town.

Homemade ice cream sandwiches

You don’t have to travel far to experience a slice of a far off land. Of course our favorite way to learn about a new place is still to get on a plane and full immerse ourselves, but we can’t always do that, much to my chagrin. When I can’t go there myself, the next best thing is to join in the celebration of the other cultures in communities in our own city.

Mike’s final words of wisdom to making sure you have a rockin’ good time at an international festival: always promise a dragon. That’s how we got Dek in the car that morning.

Two sisters with their families plus one festival = a rockin’ good time


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Showing 21 comments
  • carmen

    I love an International Festival… my children are old hands at them! Thanks for the photos of your day! 🙂

  • Charlotte

    Loold fab! I really want an ice cream sandwich! They look delicious! x

  • bev

    hi, i’m following the welcome wednesday blog hop. i would love for you to visit my blog and follow if you like it

  • Nancie

    I always enjoy a good festival. Great shots here, and yep, a dragon always get s me in the car or on the bus 🙂

  • jenny@atasteoftravel

    What a fun festival to be able to take the kids to. I’m hungry now with your photos of the delicious looking food and that icecream sandwich…memories of Sicily’s gelato con brioche!!

  • Wayne

    That looks like it was a great time had by the entire family. A very cool blog post.

  • Reply

    Love the festival! You are making me want to get out and do some exploring of Seattle — now that the sun has finally arrived in our part of the world!

  • Jen Hutchinson

    Thanks for sharing, I am so going to look for an international festival in Atlanta!! Over from Thirsty for Comments! Blessed to have found your blog! Cannot wait to read more!

  • Jessica

    Seattle has such fun international flair. What are those little sushi like toy things? Those are cute!

    • © Keryn Means/ walkingon travels

      Jessica- they are little sushi keychains. They also had sushi pillows. So silly and cute for sure.

  • Reply

    I too love International festivals and love your recommendation to try new foods! Too many of us stick to what we know and just don’t venture out. Looks like you had a great day.

  • Leigh

    Sometimes you don’t have to travel further that your own city to find some wonderful activities. Trying new foods is always a fun activity.

  • InsideJourneys

    I agree with you — I go for the food and the trinkets I can pick up.

  • Andi at The Particular Traveler

    Ok, totally salivating now Keryn! This festival looks like a blast, and great tips too. I need a sushi keychain now 🙂

    • © Keryn Means/ walkingon travels

      I’m actually kind of bummed I didn’t pick up a key chain. Might have to head back down and find the shop that sells them.

  • Dick Jordan

    I shouldn’t have been reading this so long before dinner. Now I’m hungry! Nice story and shots.

  • Cathy Sweeney

    Enjoyed spending some time with you at DragonFest 2012 — via your photos anyway. Looks like so much fun. I know that I should want to try some of the things I’ve never had, but those sweet potato fries are calling me.

    • © Keryn Means/ walkingon travels

      Sweet potato fries are our fall back in case Dek won’t eat anything else. We know he will chose down on them no matter where we are. There are definitely worse things he could love.

  • Reply

    This looks like such a fun festival. I’m all about food, sweets and trinkets too (Hubby calls them clutter) at these types of festivals. My mouth is watering with all that food. We missed San Diego’s version last month. Peking duck taco? I think I need to head to the nearest Chinatown soon.

  • sabrina

    You had me at trying international foods – I always seek that out wherever I go :0 and finishing it off with sweets? Who could beat that?! 🙂

  • Lisa Wood

    Looks like so much fun ~ love the idea of trying new foods, and saying hi to different people. Dancing sounds like a great idea!

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