The Smithsonian Folklife Festival
The 42nd annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival kicked off yesterday down on the National Mall, among D.C.’s iconic monuments and beloved museums. The festival will run this week through Sunday, June 28th, and picks up again Wednesday, July 1st through Sunday, July 5th for the Fourth of July weekend.
Each year the free outdoor festival (see schedule here) celebrates the living cultural heritage of specific countries, peoples, or regions. It’s a great place to learn from the artists, musicians, and practitioners themselves about their unique and authentic cultural traditions. This year the festival showcases the music of the Americas, African American oral tradition, and Wales.
“Las Américas: Un Mundo Musical” focuses on the various grassroots musical styles of the Americas, including Puerto Rican bomba, plena, and jíbaro; Mexican mariachi, Colombian vallenato and joropo, Dominican merengue and bachata, and Salvadoran chanchona, among many others.
“Giving Voice: The Power of Words in African American Oral Tradition”
explores black expressive culture in its many forms–theater, storytelling, poetry, humor, radio, music–and its influence on mainstream American and world culture.
Finally, the festival brings Wales, its literature, language, crafts, occupational skills, rugby, and food, to D.C.
The festival, open each day from 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (and into the evening for some special performances), attracts over one million people each year, 5-6 percent of whom come from outside the U.S. That said, be prepared
for crowds and heat. Pace yourself, bring some sun block, water, the camera, your curiosity, and cash to indulge in the delicious food of the countries and cultures featured at the festival which, this year, include soul food (barbecue chicken and fried fish), Central American cuisine (pupusas and chicarrón), South American (pollo a la brasa and kabobs), and Welsh (sausages, stews, even ice cream). Note: leave your car at home and take Metro: parking is impossible.
Photo: via the Smithsonian Folklife Festival
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