The festival has two themes this year: Earth Optimism and a celebration of UAE culture.
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival returns to the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the first time in two years after its hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The festival, which runs from June 22-27 and June 30-July 4, has two themes this year: Earth Optimism, which includes conservation efforts, and a celebration of UAE culture.
“We hope the festival is a gathering place where people can come together and learn,” said Richard Kurin, director of the Smithsonian’s Folklife Center. “The festival is a wonderful opportunity to learn, but it’s also fun.
For the first time, selected evening concerts and daily conversations with artists – and others involved with the festival – will be streamed live on YouTube and elsewhere.
Always free and open to the public, the festival is located on the National Mall between 7th and 12th Streets.
The series “The Earth Optimism x Folklife” is a mini-conference during the festival that features a range of experts to discuss inspiring environmental actions in many sectors around the world.
This year, Festival Marketplace is inspired by an open-air Arab souk (traditional market) that showcases the creativity, cultural heritage and skills of its artisans.
Festival food vendors offer traditional dishes from the United Arab Emirates using sustainably sourced products and locally produced ingredients.
Chrissie Orr, co-founder of New Mexico’s SeedBroadcast Collective, ran her fingers through a bowl of seeds while talking to visitors to her festival booth about the importance of seed diversity in agriculture.
“We are animating, reanimating the culture that got lost in agriculture,” Orr said. “We advocate for seed saving.”
Katherine Bugg and her daughter, who have just started summer vacation, were delighted to discover the festival.
“We haven’t been able to go for a few years, so it’s nice to be back,” Bugg said. “The section on the Chesapeake Bay and our region’s watershed is really interesting. My daughter is interested in marine biology and ecology, so it’s great to be able to talk to people involved in these fields.
Rhode Island School of Design student Emma Caamano showed visitors how to make fabric from plants. Her mother, Maria Rego, approved of her daughter’s lessons.
“I think it’s the best way to show what we’re doing to our environment and how we can help it,” Rego said.
Daytime programming begins at 11 a.m. and lasts until 6 p.m. daily. Special evening events, including concerts, begin shortly after daytime programming ends.
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