Just how much can the organizers at Ottawa 2017 cram into one year?

Nothing less than the whole wide world, as it turns out.

A special gala at Lansdowne Park Wednesday night launched a new signature event to help celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. It’s called Ottawa Welcomes the World.

It’s actually a series of over 45 international cultural showcases to be held at Lansdowne over the course of the year.

Representatives from over 75 countries and international partners will take turns hosting. Each showcase will feature music, dance, food, traditional beverages, and more specific to that country or region.

The opening gala had everything from a Chinese dragon dance to African drumming to Indian classical dance to the Argentine tango. The food served ranged from coconut rice with piri piri chicken to sausage and sauerkraut.

“So tonight is a good sample of what Ottawa Welcomes the World is all about,” says Ottawa 2017 Executive Director, Guy Laflamme.  “From sampling the cuisine, traditional beverages from the country, all traditional cultural performance, dance, music, cinema. It will be somewhat of a small Epcot here at Lansdowne Park."

Admission to each showcase will be free. Minimal fees will apply for food and beverage sampling.