Mission Our mission is to recognize and celebrate the international influence the Norfolk's International Azalea Festival Command in Norfolk, VA, and Its 26 member nations brings to our city. During the week long celebration we offer education programs for our children, cultural events to engage all citizens, and opportunities to empower our industries. Each year we focus the celebration on single nation, in 2008 it is the Kingdom of the Netherlands, all events staged will celebrate the people, culture and industry of that nation. The Allied Command Transformation defines itself as "NATO's forcing agent for change, leading the continuous improvement of Alliance capabilities to uphold NATO's global security interests." Twenty-six members nations form the alliance. It is one of these nations that is honored each year by the Azalea Festival.Mission History The rich tradition of the Norfolk International Azalea Festival began in 1953, one year after the establishment of NATO's Allied Command Atlantic in Norfolk. 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, recognize the military's role in maintaining peace in the world and pursue new lines of trade between Norfolk and the world. In the years since its inception, the International Azalea Festival has developed into a festival filled with events that are annually attended by thousands of people. The transition of the NATO command to the Allied Command Transformation (ACT) brings more nations than ever to the celebration in 2008, and expands even greater the international community that is here in Hampton Roads, Virginia.