A! Magazine for the Arts

Smithsonian Folklife Festival will focus on Three Cultures

May 2, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. --- This summer, the Smithsonian Institution will celebrate cultural diversity with three distinct programs at its 41st annual Folklife Festival. The festival will be held Wednesday, June 27-Sunday, July 1 and Wednesday, July 4-Sunday, July 8.

The festival will take place outdoors on the National Mall between Seventh and 14th streets, bound by the Smithsonian museums. Admission is free. Festival hours are from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day, with special evening events such as concerts and dance parties beginning at 6 p.m. The festival is co-sponsored by the National Park Service.

This year, the Festival will focus on three distinct cultures: The Roots of Virginia Culture, Northern Ireland at the Smithsonian and Mekong River: Connecting Cultures.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Va., the first permanent English settlement in the United States.

  • The Roots of Virginia Culture will bring 120 performers, artists, musicians, dancers, storytellers, cooks, farmers and craftspeople to the National Mall to explain, demonstrate and celebrate the cultural traditions of Virginia, Kent County in southeast England and West Africa. The program will explore how Virginia's culture was shaped throughout the centuries, and continues to be enriched by such groups as American Indian tribes, the English, African Americans and newer immigrants.
  • Northern Ireland at the Smithsonian will reach beyond outdated stereotypes to celebrate the diversity and creativity that exemplifies Northern Ireland. The program will bring approximately 120 performers, artists, storytellers, craftspeople, cooks and workers to Washington, D.C., to celebrate their culture. Through performances, demonstrations and educational activities, the program will highlight the rich history, living traditions and distinctive customs of this region.
  • Mekong River: Connecting Cultures will introduce visitors to the diverse cultures of the Mekong River through live demonstrations, dance and musical performances, interactive discussions and hands-on activities. The Mekong region has been a cradle and crossroads of cultures for many centuries. It is tied closely to the United States by recent historical events and by the more than 2 million Americans who trace their ancestry to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and the Chinese province of Yunnan. Visitors will experience the region's diversity firsthand from more than 200 artists, performers, craftspeople, cooks and ritual specialists from the Mekong region.