About One Love Festival

The Concept

Conceived as a snapshot of what world peace would look like, if only for one night, the festival is held every fall at Virginia Wesleyan College. The flavor of the festival is unique every year, but the idea is the same: bring all kinds of people together to create a community of harmony and peace, enjoy different kinds of performances, and have fun. It is a free event open to all. The 11th Annual One Love Festival will take place Saturday,October 1st, 2016


Our Mission

Bring People Together
Have Fun
Learn About Each Other
Ignite Peace


Our History

Community peacebuilding. One simple idea. One group of like-minded individuals. An opportunity to change the world.

The One Love Festival started out as a simple idea. In the fall of 2005 after a 9/11 vigil, friends Rick Mateo, a Buddhist, and Whit Peace, a Quaker, began a conversation about world peace. Both agreed peace begins one person at a time, one neighborhood at a time.

They also recognized that their common interest in music was a means to bring people together to celebrate peace in a way that would transcend religion, nationality, race, age, and all other states of being.

This was the beginning of the One Love Festival, a free interfaith festival that would focus on all varieties of performance, such as music, dance, the spoken word, art, and prayer, as well as include a peace education component for both young and old.

In early 2006, Rick and Whit and a handful of Buddhists and Quakers and other friends began meeting to plan the first One Love Festival at Virginia Wesleyan College, where Paul Rasor, Director of VWC’s Center for the Study of Religious Freedom, enthusiastically welcomed the group’s mission.Walidanes

That fall they opened the doors to the inaugural One Love Festival. Performing artists of all faiths and backgrounds shared their peacebuilding messages through music and the arts with a receptive audience. Since then every fall One Love Festival has offered the community a chance to transcend differences and embrace the oneness that joins all people together. Festival founders, friends, and volunteers have watched the event grow well beyond anything they could have imagined or dreamed.

Co-founder Rick Mateo said, “Isn’t it amazing how a simple idea can grow? It just takes people of like minds who have a passion for peace, all coming together as one.”

Besides Virginia Wesleyan College’s enthusiastic support, many like-minded groups—United Nations Peace Day, Earthdance, Fair Trade Festival, Tidewater Peace Alliance’s Festival for Peace, and HRNN’s Season For Nonviolence—have helped support One Love Festival.

Community peacebuilding is what the One Love Festival is all about. And while the event only occurs one day each year, the energy it generates among the performers, the audience, and its volunteers continues to spread and grow the other 364 days of the year.

Co-founder Whit Peace believes the One Love Festival “makes a difference for the better—for our community, the world and, most importantly, within you.”


The 6th Annual One Love Festival, October 2011
The 6th Annual 2011 One Love Festival took place Saturday, October 22, 2011. OLF 2011The event began with a workshop sponsored by the Bishop Sullivan Pax Christi Community. The workshop was be led by Angie O’Gorman, author of The Book of Sins, and editor of The Universe Bends Toward Justice: A Reader in Christian Nonviolence in the U.S. There was a book signing with the author after the workshop. The "Speak Your Peace" open mic event (poetry, spoken word, etc.) followed the workshop, and those who had reserved dinner also used the space for dining, lending a café/dinner-club atmosphere to the room. Meanwhile, Arthur Lopez of Virginia World Rhythms Drum Circles led an afternoon drum circle jam, and later got everybody involved in an exciting, fun-filled drumming circle during the evening concert. The evening concert featured performances by The Friends School Soundwaves (a youth drumming group) and The Friends School Vibes (youth singing group), Lawrence Lambert, Narissa Bond, poets Vivian Teter and Eddie Dowe, the Ebenezer Unity Choir, Playback Hampton Roads, and Life Force Band.

The 7th Annual One Love Festival, October 2012
Previously held in October, in 2012 the festival was held September 22, 2012,Ohana Mau Loa placing it on the same weekend as the International Day of Peace. The Peace Day events were held at Christ & St. Luke's in Norfolk on Friday night. The One Love Festival started Saturday afternoon, with Pax Christi presenting Patrick O'Neill on non-violence. Arthur Lopez and several other drummers led The Largest Drum Circle in the World, which is a global event for peace. Teens With a Purpose helped Bob Young lead the Speak Your Peace open mic poetry event, and it was great to hear from so many talented young poets! The evening concert featured M.C. Paul Shugrue. We enjoyed music from artists like Narissa Bond, Tina Micula, and SoulStice Reb'l; spoken performances from D.D. Delaney and Simba Castano; dance from Ohana Mau Loa and the Easti Suffolk Sophisticated Steppers, and a drum circle with Arthur Lopez of Virginia World Rhythyms.

The 8th Annual One Love Festival, September 2013
The 2013 the festival was held September 21, placing it on the same day as Walidanes-2013 the International Day of Peace. The Peace Day events were combined with the One Love Festival. The One Love Festival started Saturday afternoon, with Arthur Lopez and several other drummers leading The Largest Drum Circle in the World, part of a global event for peace. Talented, energetic youth poets from Teens With a Purpose performed poetry & spoken word as part of the drum circle. The drum circle took place in the Batten Center Grill. Over in the Monumental Chapel, Pax Christi presented Roy Bourgeois, speaking about his life and work: From Warrior to Peacemaker—Roy Bourgeois, Conscience, and the Movement to Close the School of the Americas. The Peace Day events took place in the Boyd Dining Hall, with a special focus: Bringing Peace to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mac McKinney led the event, and there were a number of speakers (Jagdish Singh, Bismarck Myrick, Jane Lockhart, Rev. Carey Chirico, and others) and performers (Charles Clarke, Chardabat Musique, and the Taiko Drummers of SGI-USA). The evening concert featured M.C. Nathan Richardson. The Friends School Sound Waves started off the evening with their magical steel drum sound, and we enjoyed remarks from Professor Paul Rasor and Chaplain Greg West. There was music from artists Narissa Bond and SoulStice Reb'l; drumming from the Walidanes, and dance from Ohana Mau Loa and Isis Rising. Festival founder Rick Mateo performed a special treat, Minutes of a Life: Barber's Adagio for strings & drums featuring the poetry of Bob Young.