California WorldFest: A Journey Around the World

CALIFORNIA WORLDFEST, THE ANNUAL celebration of global music, offers an ideal setting to discover new cultures through music. Now in its 23rd year, the music festival returns to the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley on July 11-14 with a stellar lineup.

More than 50 artists from around the world perform music on eight different stages. Grammy award-winner Lila Downs joins Trombone Shorty, and Toots and the Maytals as this year’s headliners.

“Downs has multiple voices, from an airborne near-falsetto down to a forthright alto and a sultry, emotive contralto,” said a reviewer at the Los Angeles Times. She also is a human-rights activist, who has long sung about culture and politics.

Downs leads a growing roster of Latin artists performing this year, including Grammy winner, songwriter and guitar bender Twanguero, Chicago’s Radio Free Honduras, and Puerto Rico’s ÌFÉ.

Up-and-coming acts include Berkeley folk artist Mikey Pauker; Australian soul blues and roots rock singer-songwriter Kara Grainger; and London’s The Turbans, featuring musicians with roots in Turkey, Bulgaria, Israel, Iran, Greece, Spain, and England.

Other artists include Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, a Grammy award-winning family hip hop musician; and Taimane, who first appeared at WorldFest playing the ukulele with Michael Franti in 2017.

The festival also includes yoga, dance, and music classes, meditation sessions, and artist-led workshops. Children activities include “teen scene,” arts and crafts, and Brazilian-inspired Games on the Green.

In the World Marketplace, vendors offer world-class shopping and dining experiences. Artisan vendors sell original clothing, jewelry and artwork.

WorldFest allows festival-goers to gain a deeper understanding of the area’s cultural heritage.

The Global Indigenous Peoples Village is hosted by the Indigenous Nisenan People. The Nisenan will open WorldFest with a ceremonial welcoming of all guests on their ancestral homeland.

Festival attendees can camp at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. An onsite RV park includes 44 sites with full hook-ups, about 100 sites with water and power hook-ups, and numerous RV sites without hook-ups. Other features include showers, free Wi-Fi, coffee and fresh local produce.

Founded by Chico residents Dan DeWayne and Christine Myers in 1997, WorldFest came under the umbrella of The Center for the Arts in 2015. Fest- Forums has presented the music festival innovation award to WorldFest — a reminder of the inventiveness that is revitalizing the foothills’ performing arts scene.

For the full list of artists, details about camping and workshops, and ticket information, visit

(Photo: Lila Downs)

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