Lots of white tents are starting to pop up on the National Mall. Which, around this time of year, can only mean one thing: The 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival is about to begin. From June 27 – July 1 and July 4-8, the National Mall will become the stomping grounds of folks from around the globe to celebrate living cultural heritage and community traditions.
Focused on a few main themes every year, the festival has three in 2012: Campus and Community commemorates the 150th anniversary of the founding of land-grant universities and the USDA. Citified celebrates arts and creativity east of the Anacostia River. Creativity and Crisis spotlights the 25th anniversary of The AIDS Memorial Quilt and 30 years of life with AIDS.
Visitors of all ages will have ample opportunity to discover and explore all three areas through special exhibits, workshops, performances, exhibits, demos, and more, including plenty of activities especially children. For specifics, see the festival schedule.
This will all take place on the National Mall just past Smithsonian Castle (and all of the construction) from June 27 – July 1 and July 4 -8. Festival hours are 11am – 5:30pm with special performances taking place later most evenings. And in true Smithsonian spirit, just about all of it is free and open to the public.
If you plan to go… Be aware that the Mall will likely 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 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 L’Enfant (Blue/Orange/Yellow/Green) stop is also nearby.