For over 65 years, Norfolk, Virginia has organized a salute to NATO’s role in maintaining peace and stability in the world – Norfolk NATO Festival. Norfolk is NATO’s home in North America, and the Norfolk NATO Festival is the only festival in the world which honors the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its 29 member nations. Norfolk NATO Festival returns April 27 – May 3, continuing a tradition of cultural exchange and enriching the lives of community members of all ages. In addition, there’s a special event in March involving area high school students experiencing a simulated Model NATO Challenge.
All events are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted, as each of the 29 NATO Member Nations and NATO Representatives interact and engage with visitors giving insights about that nation’s culture – no passport required!
“On behalf of the NATO family, I hope all members of the community have an opportunity to rejoice and experience the longstanding relationship between NATO and the City of Norfolk during the Norfolk NATO Festival,” said Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, French Air Force General Andre Lanata. “All nations represented at NATO’s Allied Command Transformation serve as a symbol of the Alliance’s transatlantic bond, and we are grateful to work and live alongside our American friends. Please enjoy the culture and heritage of all 29 member nations showcased throughout this week. I look forward to celebrating with everyone for many years to come!”
Model NATO Challenge
Wednesday, March 18 · Virginia Wesleyan University, Norfolk, VA · 4:00 – 9:00 PM
The Model NATO Challenge is a scholarship competition in which the top 29 high school applicants along with 6 alternates are chosen to participate in a mock global crisis simulation, confronting issues facing today’s NATO Alliance. 29 Student Diplomats are chosen to represent each of the 29 NATO Member Nations. Student Diplomats must work together to address a crisis scenario such as piracy, immigration, or another issue that faces the NATO Alliance today. Students Diplomats are assigned mentors, military officers from each of the 29 countries, who assist in preparing the students for the challenge while teaching them about their culture, national military resources, and political backgrounds. Based on their leadership and diplomacy skills, the top three finalists are awarded scholarships. By invitation only.
Norfolk NATO Festival Chairman’s Reception
Monday, April 27 · Slover Library, Norfolk, VA · 6:00 – 8:00 PM
With a small gathering of our NATO military officials, Festival committee members, city officials, and community sponsors and partners, we kick off the Norfolk NATO Festival week’s events with an evening reception in Norfolk’s own Slover Library. By invitation only.
World Affairs Council, Norfolk NATO Festival Banquet
Wednesday, April 29 · Location/Time TBD
Founded in 1969, the World Affairs Council of Greater Hampton Roads is one of nearly 100 chapters of the World Affairs Councils of America. A 501(c)3 non-profit, non-partisan, educational organization, the Council is dedicated to promoting an understanding of global issues through education and public discussion, believing that a well-informed public is essential for the conduct of foreign policy to a democracy. Banquet tickets are open to the public, student pricing is available. For more information, visit www.hrwac.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Norfolk NATO Flag Raising Ceremony
Thursday April 30 · Scope Plaza, Norfolk, VA · 5:00 – 6:00 PM
Enjoy a cultural sampling of music and a colorful display of NATO Member Nation flags and uniforms in this military presentation representing all 29 NATO Member Nations.
NATO Night at Virginia International Tattoo
Thursday April 30 · Scope Plaza, Norfolk, VA · 7:30 – 9:30 PM
The centuries-old tradition of the military tattoo gathers bands and military corps for a display of music and might – and the Virginia International Tattoo is the largest Tattoo in the U.S., and one of the largest and most spectacular in the world! For tickets: vafest.org/tattoo.
67th Annual Parade of Nations
Saturday, May 2 · Downtown Norfolk · 10:00 – 11:30 AM
Over 75 Parade Units! You’ll see colorful floats representing each of the 29 NATO Member Nations as well as U.S. and international military bands, local and visiting high school bands, drill teams, and more! The only parade in the United States to honor our international allies of NATO, Saturday’s thrills begin with one of the most unique parades in the U.S.
Norfolk NATO Festival’s International Village
Saturday, May 2 · Town Point Park, Norfolk, VA · 11:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of the 29 NATO Member Nations! The village features something for the whole family: performances, international art, cuisine, souvenirs, and craft beers. Park opens immediately following the Parade.
About Norfolk NATO Festival
Norfolk NATO Festival was founded in 1953, just one year after the establishment of NATO's Allied Command Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia. In that year, the citizens of Norfolk organized a salute to these Allied forces in order to create new friendships, provide a basis for cultural exchange, pursue new lines of trade between Norfolk and the world, and to recognize NATO’s role in maintaining peace and stability in the world. Allied Command Atlantic was decommissioned in 2003. This year marks the 16th anniversary of Allied Command Atlantic’s successor, Allied Command Transformation.
The Norfolk NATO Festival enriches the lives of local citizens through NATO-focused programs. The Norfolk NATO Festival facilitates educational opportunities for students throughout Hampton Roads which center on NATO and its 29 Member Nations. Education programs are available throughout the year for elementary, middle, and high schools students throughout the region. The hallmark education program is the Model NATO Challenge.