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Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2014 (Program and Visiting Tips)

A Cultural Festival in Washington, DC



Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Photo © Jeff Tinsley of the Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is a special annual event sponsored each June-July by the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage celebrating cultural traditions around the world. The Folklife Festival includes daily and evening music and dance performances, crafts and cooking demonstrations, storytelling and discussions of cultural issues. The themes of the 2014 program will be China: Tradition and the Art of Living and Kenya: Mambo Poa! Sunday, June 29 is Festival Diaspora Day, which celebrates the diaspora communities associated with each program. Performances, demonstrations and discussion sessions will highlight how cultural traditions are transformed when people and communities migrate. See Photos of the 2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival Dates and Hours

June 25-29 and July 2-6, 2014. Open daily 11 a.m.- 5:30 p.m. Evening events begin at 5:30-6 p.m. Admission is free.


National Mall, between 7th and 14th Streets in Washington, DC. Parking around the Mall is extremely limited, so the best way to get to the festival is by Metro. The closest stations are Smithsonian, Federal Triangle and National Archives.

Visiting Tips

  • This event is held during the warmest time of year in Washington, DC. Plan ahead, dress appropriately and drink lots of water. Give yourself time to visit the Smithsonian Museums to cool off.
  • Eat lunch or dinner at the festival. The food is great and reflects the themes of the festival. If children are picky, you can easily find a hotdog from a street vendor.
  • Seek hands-on activities to keep children involved.
  • Be sure to check out the Marketplace (located in front of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History facing the Mall) where you can find merchandise produced by festival artisans and related books and CDs.

2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival Program

China: Tradition and the Art of Living - The program will highlight the creativity, heritage, and masterful skill of China as a country reflecting its regional, occupational, and religious distinctions.  The China program will feature seasonal festival traditions, emphasize the exuberance of public life, share the meaning and preparation of Chinese foodways, engage visitors in craft and performance workshops, and highlight the country’s cultural diversity. The festival will present contemporary artists in some of the region’s oldest traditions—from kite-making to calligraphy, martial arts to Mongolian long song.

Kenya: Mambo Poa! - The program will present the ways in which the people of Kenya are balancing protection of their valued cultural and natural heritage with the challenges and opportunities for change in the twenty-first century. Festival visitors will be able to interact with  craftspeople who work with everything from clay to soapstone to recycled materials, learn about important fossil discoveries by taking part in a model dig site from the Great Rift Valley, run with Kenya’s Olympic athletes, dance to both traditional and contemporary music from many regions of the country, discover how Kenyans live among and work with some of the most magnificent wildlife on the continent, and experience Kenyan life in the United States.

Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert To Honor Pete Seeger - Friday, June 27, at 6:30 p.m.
Pete Seeger’s history with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival was a long and rich one. He, along with Festival co-founder Ralph Rinzler, influenced the way people around the world understand the social power of music and the continued relevance of traditional culture in contemporary society. This concert will feature musicians including Holly Near, Quetzal, Radmilla Cody and Tony Seeger to celebrate Pete’s life and give voice to his resounding legacy.

Photos of the Smithsonian Folklife Festivals

2013 Festival - Themes: Hungarian Heritage: Roots to Revival, One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage, and Will to Adorn: African American Identity and the Aesthetics of Dress.

2012 Festival - Themes: Campus and Community; Citified: Arts and Creativity East of the Anacostia River and Creativity and Crisis: Unfolding The AIDS Memorial Quilt.

2011 Festival - Themes: Colombia, Peace Corps and Rhythm and Blues.

2010 Festival - Themes: México Profundo: A Deeper Mexico, Asian Pacific American Connections and Smithsonian Inside Out.

2009 Festival - Themes: Giving Voice: The Power of Words in African American Culture, The Americas: A Musical World, and Wales Smithsonian Cymru.

2008 Festival - Themes: A Celebration of Texas Music, Food and Wine, Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon and NASA: 50 Years and Beyond.

2007 Festival - Themes: Mekong River: Connecting Cultures, Northern Ireland at the Smithsonian, and the Roots of Virginia Culture.

2006 Festival - Themes: Alberta at the Smithsonian, Carriers of Culture: Living Native Basket Traditions, and Nuestra Música 2006: Latino Chicago.

See Previous years

Official Website: http://www.festival.si.edu

If you are planning to be in town for the 4th of July, read about Fourth of July Fireworks and Celebrations in the Washington, DC area.

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