The Smithsonian Folklife Festival will be taking over the National Mall in Washington D.C. June 25th to June 29th and July 2nd to July 6th. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an international exposition of living cultural heritage events produced annually by the Smithsonian Institute’s Center for Folk Life and Cultural Heritage. The Washington D.C. Smithsonian sponsored cultural showcase was started in 1967. The festival has hosted over 23,000 musicians, artists, performers, craftspeople, food preparers, storytellers and many others to demonstrate the traditions, culture and heritage of their home nations. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is the largest annual cultural event in the United States with tens of thousands of visitors to the National Mall each day. The event is free and open to all.
Every year, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival spotlights the traditions and culture of two nations. This year the two focus countries are China and Kenya. The Chinese program is called “Tradition and the Art of Living”, which incorporates the theme of reunion and balance, two very important parts of Chinese life. China is the world’s most populous country and the second largest economy. The population of China is moving away from rural villages and towards larger cities for new jobs and opportunities. This shift is affecting all aspects of Chinese culture and the economy. The Smithsonian event will have over 100 Chinese artists and cultural bearers sharing the traditions and new ideas of the Chinese people during the two weekends of the festival. The Kenyan exhibit is called “Mambo Poa” and represents the balancing of the Kenyan cultural and national heritage with the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. The Kenyan traditions and culture are linked to the diverse landscapes ranging from mountains to savannahs to deserts. The Kenyan traditions are exhibited by craftspeople, performers, cooks and educational researchers from Kenya.
Washington DC Smithsonian Events
There are special events and concerts during the two weekends of the Washington D.C. Smithsonian event at the 5 different stages set up at the festival. The festival performances are part of a great cultural concert series in D.C. that are held throughout the year. The concerts have traditional Chinese or Kenyan performers as well as their country’s top popular artists. There is also a special Smithsonian Folklife Music tribute to Pete Seeger taking place on Friday, June 27th starting at 6:30 on the Ngoma stage. The show will have a variety of performances from spoken work, to music to dance to honor the folk music icon.
The Smithsonian Folk Festival has a marketplace where you can find some of the goods and items created by the festival participants. Some of the crafts are created by the artisans during the actual festival and some have been specially made for the marketplace. The items showcased at the marketplace include: jewelry, textiles, baskets, pottery, clothing, CDs, books, toys, sculpture, and paper artworks. The purchase of these items supports the artisans from around the world and contributes to the development of traditional craft-making worldwide.
Children and families have a place to learn and play in each of the country’s areas set up on the National Mall. There are daily ongoing children and family activities including crafts, food demonstrations, music and dance performances. Check out the map and schedule to find where the family events are being held each day. Each cultural area will have cold beverages and fresh fruit available for purchase. The fresh fruit vendors, Arabbers from Baltimore, have been a Folklife Festival tradition since 1972. There will also be traditional Chinese and Kenyan food choices available in different pavilions.
The Smithsonian Folk Festival is one of Washington D.C.’s great events. The events blend into the Fourth of July celebrations (Keep an eye out for future blog post with more detail on the 4th of July events), patriotic concerts that will take place on the West Lawn of the Capital building.
After you have collected your new Kenyan and Chinese cultural treasures during the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, you can store them in the convenient ezStorage self storage Washington D.C. locations.