Washington DC‘s Smithsonian Folklife Festival is a free outdoor celebration of all sorts of cultures and traditions, first initiated in 1967 and bringing educational opportunities to the public during the 4th of July holiday. It’s visited by around a million people and is sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. As in most cultural festivals, there will be ubiquitous music, dance, and food – in this case celebrating not one specific heritage, but many, and bringing together both cultural anthropology and ethnomusicology.
Foods available include Azerbaijani cuisine like kebabs and dolma; shave ice; ‘Southern comfort food’ like fried chicken, collard greens and peach cobbler; BBQ regulars; fresh fruit smoothies; and (best of all) free filtered water! It should also be noted that the fuel to power the concessionaires is 20% bio-diesel – just another way our nation’s capital is helping contribute to the U.S.’s growing ‘green’ awareness and sustainability efforts. All kinds of musicians will perform, like the University of the District of Columbia Jazz Ensemble, the Rock Creek Singers (part of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C.), and even Hungarian Roma Musicians.
It will take place outside at the National Mall, between the Smithsonians. The 2012 themes are Campus and Community, Citified, and Creativity and Crisis (Unfolding the AIDS Memorial Quilt – quite a sight). It runs for a two-week period from June 27-July 1st and from July 4-8th, 11am-5:30pm. Admission is free! A thorough schedule of events and a map are available online.
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