Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Scenesetter: The National Folklife Festival on the Washington Mall

There are many benefits to living in, or traveling to, Washington, DC--the capital city of the United States--among which, during the summer, is the opportunity to participate in the annual Folklife Festival sponsored each year on the National Mall by the Smithsonian Institution, the American national complex of numerous museums and research institutions, as well as the National Zoo.

Beginning tomorrow (Thursday, 30 June 2011), the Festival commences with two five-day celebrations (June 30 through July Fourth, and July 7 - 11) of the diversity of American culture--as opposed to the usual four-day observances, given the fact that the national
Independence Day, the Fourth of July, falls on a Monday, so that it makes sense to the sponsor (one assumes) to add the two extra days this year.

Following is a guide, both for those of you who live in Washington or its environs, or those who can only explore the options online. We hope it proves to be useful, and we will be bringing you reports of the myriad activities, mostly musical, from the Festival in the coming days.

Each year the Festival ordinarily has three themes; for this year we have:

1) "The Peace Corps - Fifty Years of Promoting World Peace and Friendship", involving participants from a variety of countries: Jamaica, Guatemala, Peru, Belize, Morocco, Botswana, Mali, Kenya, , the Kyrgyz Republic, the Phillipines, and Tonga. For any VOA staff who may be return Peace Corps Volunteers, there will be a Reunion Hall as part of the Festival. For more information, go to

2) "Rhythm and Blues - Tell It Like It Is", presenting, with its rich history of development beginning in Africa, a somewhat broader spectrum of programming options than is often the case with the Festival. A variety of styles, including urban blues, doo-wop, soul, and funk, will be represented by continuous performances on two stages throughout the day by reputed artists, many veterans with decades of experience. For more information, go to

3) "Colombia - The Nature of Culture", with representation of the six ecosystems and the country's three largest cities. Roughly one hundred Colombian artists will "sing, dance, prepare food, tell stories, celebrate the harvest, and demonstrate religious ceremonies, traditional medecine practices, and agricultural sustainability at the Festival." For more information, go to

A daily schedule of events can be found at

And each night will include a concert of music associated with some aspect of the festival:

A series of videos about the institution of the Festival itself (Festival 101) can be found at

More general information can be found at

For a quick lunch or early dinner there are also food concessions--the links have pictures, so even if you're not able to attend, you see some mouth-watering delicacies . . . .:

Finally, there is a marketplace featuring items made during, or related to, the festival:

So visit the Festival if you can, either in person or virtually, and in the coming days we'll be bringing you glimpses of this rich tapestry of cultural presentations.

No comments: