The National Mall is going to be one happening spot for the next couple of weeks. The 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival is about to begin, celebrating living cultural heritage and community traditions around the globe. (Couple that with the big annual July 4th celebration and there will be lots of action on the green amid our museums around the holiday weekend.)
This year’s festival will celebrate the nature of Colombia, 50 years of the Peace Corps, and Rhythm & Blues music in the United States. Special exhibits and programs will offer guests all kinds of opportunities — workshops, performances, exhibits, demos, and more — to discover and explore all three genres, including plenty of activities especially children. For specifics, see the full festival schedule.
This will all take place along the National Mall from June 30 – July 5 and July 7 -11. Festival hours are 11am – 5:30pm with special performances taking place later most evenings. And in true Smithsonian spirit, all of it is free and open to the public.
So, here’s the scoop: The Mall will be crowded during this time. Besides the throngs of tourists that visit DC during the summer, the July 4th celebration draws even more crowds, especially in the days leading up to the event (on the day of, it’s jam-packed). That said, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival is definitely worth checking out. We go at some point every year — it’s a convenient stroll or Metro ride there — and always find exhibits and activities that are interesting for the whole family. Generally, I always recommend taking Metro to the Mall. The Smithsonian stop on the Blue/Orange line lets out right by the Festival, and the Federal Triangle (also Blue/Orange) and National Archives/Navy Memorial (Yellow/Green line) stops are also close by.