Tag Archives: DC Summer

Scenes (and the Scoop) from the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Have a royally good time at the Festival!

Every summer the Smithsonian Folklife Festival brings a celebration of living cultural heritage to the National Mall, showcasing different regions around the world through a variety of hands-on activities, performances, demonstrations, and exhibits for all ages to enjoy. It’s one of DC’s most anticipated annual events, and this year’s event kicked off yesterday with Catalonia and Armenia in the spotlight.

It’s running through July 1, then July 4-8, and I highly recommend going at some point. I just spent a few of hours there and came straight home to post this, so I could share info and images right away — it’s that good. The only negative for me was that Owen and Sasha weren’t there to enjoy it, too. Going to the Folklife Festival is somewhat of a summer tradition for us, but they are both at sleep away camp for the next couple of weeks. (Yes, KidFriendly DC is, ironically, KidFree for bit. But not to worry… I have a backlog of cool adventures I’ll be blogging about!)

Knot tying in an exhibit about maritime Catalonia

One of my favorite things about the Smithsonian Folklife Festival is the many opportunities to get hands-on. Artisans, performers, and other experts from the highlighted places come here to present their work and traditions behind them, and most welcome visitors to participate, too. In the Catalonia area I worked on a mosaic tile piece that will become part of a larger mural. I learned about Festa Major de Gràcia, an annual celebration in Barcelona, that includes large-scale neighborhood art installations created mostly from recycled materials. I helped cut plastic bottles and paint the curly strips and flowers made from them to be applied to a structure that will become DC’s own Festa piece.

Be the otter!

Kids, actually make that everyone, will also enjoy seeing beautiful giant puppets (some that they let you try on!); music and dance performances; metal, clay, and wood artisans at work; and cooking demos of traditional cuisine. There are also rug weavers and lace tatters making beautiful pieces while you watch in awe. And even more amazing art and heritage is there to discover. Food from both cultures is available for purchase, and there are bar areas on both sides, too, if you’re so inclined.

The Faves Salad is a fave

All of this takes place in tents and booths on the sides of the Mall, so there is a lot of shade from the trees. Of course, you can easily pop into one of the museums if you need a break from the heat (or a restroom).

A few other Festival programs will provide even more cultural insight and experiences. On the Move explores how we experience migration in our everyday lives. Crafts of African Fashion showcases apparel from African countries as works fo art and demonstrates how cultural enterprises sustain communities and connect generations on the continent. And on July 8, there will be an evening concert tribute to Sisterfire festivals produced in DC in the 1980s.

Working with hot metal

Festival hours are 11:30am – 6pm each day it runs, with evening concerts most nights at 6:30pm. It’s set up on the Mall near the Smithsonian Castle, Freer|Sackler Gallery, Natural History Museum, American History Museum. To get there, I recommend taking Metro or biking to the National Mall*. The Smithsonian stop on the Blue/Orange line is most convenient, and L’Enfant on Blue/Orange & Yellow/Green is also nearby.

*Be aware that the National Mall can get crowded during this time. Besides the influx of tourists to DC during the summer, the July 4th celebration draws even more crowds. That said, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival is wonderful and worth braving the crowds and high temps to experience. Admission to all of it is free.

For more information, including the schedule of events, visit the Festival website. And for a glimpse of what’s there, check out the photos below.

The start of a mosaic mural

A chance to channel Gaudí and make pieces for the larger mosaic

A Catalonian metal artisan at work

Mesmerizing to watch the clay take shape

Upcycling: plastic bottles become art

Cutting bottles and painting strips for the big installation

Onto Armenia…

Catch live entertainment throughout the day

All kinds of stitched products

Rug weaving is so impressive!

A stone carving demo for kids

Making traditional Armenian bread – they offer samples, too!

Wine in Armenian…good to know 😉

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Filed under 2018, All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Live Entertainment, Music, Outdoor, Special Event, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: July 5-8

Kick off the flip flops and enjoy a day at Flag Ponds

Kick off the flip flops and enjoy a day at Flag Ponds

Tuesday – Visit Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, where the water lilies and lotus flowers are beginning to bloom — it is gorgeous! There will be a big festival to celebrate it in a couple of weeks, but it’s also nice to enjoy without the crowds. Meander through the park to see ponds full of giant lily pads and dazzling flora, walk out on the boardwalk and peer over to watch snapping turtles in the water below, and take in views of the acres of marshland. And did I mention this is all right in NE DC? Hours are 9am – 5pm. Admission is free.

Wednesday – Make it a beach day at Flag Ponds Nature Park. Swim in the Chesapeake, build sandcastles on the shore, have a picnic, spot wildlife in the woods, and definitely do some fossil hunting — the park is a great place to search for shark teeth and other prehistoric remnants. Hours are 9am – 4pm (beach closes at 3:30pm), admission is $6/car.

Thursday – Catch a bilingual kids’ concert by Moona Luna at Strathmore’s Backyard Theatre for Children. The annual summer music series for kids kicks off this week and will take place every Thursday through July. Performances are at 9:30am and 11:30am. Tickets are $8. Enjoy some evening entertainment, too, as the Capital Fringe Festival begins! The first day of performances includes the all ages show Once Upon a Bedtime by Silver Finch Arts Collective at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Showtime is 6pm, and tickets are $17.

Friday – Enjoy free admission for kids to the Newseum while you can! The annual Summer Fun Deal, which runs July 1 – Labor Day, waives the entrance fee for youth with one paid adult admission. The deal benefits kids ages 7 and up most, since children 6 and under always get in free, and much of the Newseum’s collection will be better appreciated by older children. Adult tickets are $22.95. For a museum outing with little ones, head to National Postal Museum, a fantastic but often overlooked museum full of interactive exhibits that all ages can enjoy. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm, and admission is free.

*Plan ahead for summer weekends!* Check out Ruddy Duck Adventures packages that explore all kinds of cool fun in Solomons, MD. And KidFriendly DC readers can get a discount using the code KFDC!

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Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Summer, Theatre, Weekdays

Play it Cool with ICEBERGS at the National Building Museum


We’ve come to expect big things from the National Building Museum every summer. It began with indoor mini-golf two years in a row. Then it was the Big Maze. Last year, we got to play at the awesome BEACH. And one commonality among them: They were all really cool.


This year’s installation fits right in with that – literally and figuratively. ICEBERGS, an immersive exhibit with an environmental narrative, transforms the museum’s Great Hall into a sea of icebergs that welcome visitors to explore.


Blue mesh netting encompasses the exhibit to give it an otherworldly feel, and the “bergs” within are all different sizes presented at varying levels. Some hang from the ceiling as if they’re floating, while others start at floor level with the tip jutting out over the mesh top (like 25% of a real iceberg rising above the surface of the sea).



You can walk through many of them, and the tallest, 56-foot “bergy bit,” houses scaffolding inside that you can climb to a lookout at the height of the second-story of the Museum, which is right sea level. It’s neat to get a view of both the exhibit and the Museum from that perspective, essentially right in the middle of the Great Hall. You can then exit the berg with a ride down one of two slides (careful, they go fast!).


While there is an environmental aspect to the installation — an awareness of ice melt from global warming — it’s not overt (though ICEBERGS is built from re-usable construction materials, such as scaffolding and polycarbonate paneling, which is used in building greenhouses). The overall aesthetic is what captured my attention most — how it looked from different angles as the light moved through; the various levels below, at the surface, and above; and the way it was constructed within the Great Hall, with its grand, marble columns.


White bean bags meant to resemble ice chunks are within for visitors to lounge. You can sit and enjoy your kakigori shaved ice treat from the stand set up by Daikaya. The strawberry and red bean cup I had was delicious!


While you probably won’t stay and play for hours like you did at The BEACH last summer, ICEBERGS definitely is worth checking out. Plus, the admission fee gets you into all of the other NBM exhibits, too! And every Wednesday evening, you can chill after hours 6-10pm at ICEBERGS Late Nights, which are “all ages” every week. There will be special performances and programs, plus food and beverages available for purchase from special guest chefs.


ICEBERGS will be at the National Building Museum July 2 – September 5. Hours are 10am – 5pm, with after hours Wednesdays 6-10pm. Admission is $5/youth member, $10/adult member and $13/youth non-member, $16/adult non-member. All ages can enjoy it, but little ones should probably be accompanied by adults when going down the slides and climbing up onto the balcony.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Exhibit, Indoor Play, Museums, Seasonal, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: June 27 – July 1

Kids (and adults!) will love the Recycled Tire Playground at Seneca Creek State Park

Kids (and adults!) will love the Recycled Tire Playground at Seneca Creek State Park

Monday – Experience WONDER at the Renwick Gallery while it’s still on view — the much celebrated exhibit closes in a couple of weeks on July 10. Even if you’ve already seen it, a repeat look is just as enchanting. And if it’s your first time, well, you’re in for quite a treat. Hours are 10am- 5:30pm. Admission is free.

Tuesday – See a high-energy dance show in the fresh air at Wolf Trap’s Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods. SOLE Defined will take the outdoor stage for the first performance of the week, and you can catch other exciting acts every Tuesday – Saturday at 10:30am through August 6. Tickets are $8-12.

Wednesday – Tie dye a t-shirt at A.C. Moore’s special summer program for kids! The arts & crafts store is offering a summer-long schedule of FREE “Make & Take” activities for children ages 4–12, designed to tap their creativity. Sessions will take place every Wednesday from 1-3pm, and there is no cost to join. Find an A.C. Moore location near you.

Thursday – Play the day away at Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg. You’ve got your pick of activities to enjoy throughout the 6,000+ acres of lovely recreational space. Hike through the woods, rent a canoe, play Frisbee golf, have a picnic, and be sure to let the kiddos romp on the awesome Recycled Tire Playground complete with zip line and giant tire monster to clamber upon.

Friday – Spend the day at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival where Basque country and California sounds are in the spotlight. The annual celebration of living cultural heritage is full of hands-on activities, performances, demos, and much more from June 29 – July 4 and July 7-10, 11am – 5pm each day, with special events most evenings at 6:30pm. Find it all on the National Mall from 3rd-4th Streets. Admission is free.

*Plan ahead for summer weekends!* Check out Ruddy Duck Adventures packages that explore all kinds of cool fun in Solomons, MD. And KidFriendly DC readers can get a discount using the code KFDC!


Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Summer, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays

Where to Play on the Weekdays: June 20-24

Spray fun at Turkey Thicket

Spray fun at Turkey Thicket


Monday – Catch a family-friendly performance at Folger Shakespeare Library. Gravediggers Tale, featuring comedic actor Louis Butelli, is a one-man show based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet that encourages audience participation. Showtime is 10:30am, and tickets are free — reserve yours here.

If you’re with really little ones, Rise + Rhyme at Busboys and Poets in Takoma or Hyattsville, MD. The weekly series welcomes children 5 and under with their caregivers to enjoy a morning of performances and stories from 9:30-11am. Admission is $5. Plan on breakfast, too — full service will be available while the little ones are grooving! (FYI: The series also takes place in Shirlington, VA, the last Tuesday of every month.)

Tuesday – Beat the heat in the cool comfort of a movie, a heavily discounted one!. The Regal Summer Movie Express begins this week, presenting family films for just $1 every Tuesday and Wednesday at participating theaters during the summer. See what’s playing at a theater near you — there are two movie choices every week.

Wednesday – Climb-A-Tree with Montgomery Parks Arborists. Find out how fast, how far, how high you can go when you climb a giant tree at Fairview Urban Park! Arborists will provide safety gear, assistance, and encouragement to help kids put their heads in the clouds and see our parks from a new perspective. Hours are 9am – 12pm, and admission is free. The park is located at 8900 Fairview Road in Silver Spring.

Thursday – Jump in to summer fun at a public pool, which are now open daily! Even better, they’re free (or a small fee if you’re not a resident of the District or county where it’s located). Check out the 2016 Summer Guide for links to public pools in the area and be sure to note open times, as they may vary from pool to pool.

Friday – Take kids ages 4-9 to Walls of Books for Storytime Yoga. Join Sierra Yoga and Wellness as they make stories come alive with games, songs, and yoga poses, encouraging the connection of mind and body and bringing together the best of two worlds: storytelling and yoga! The free 45-minute session starts at 12pm.

For an outing with younger children, head to the Turkey Thicket playground in Brookland, where they can enjoy running through sprays along with slides, swings, climbing equipment, and more. Admission there is free.


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Filed under All ages, Class, DC, Educational, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays