Smithsonian Announces Changes to 2019 Folklife Festival Event

March 15, 2019
News Release
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The Smithsonian Folklife Festival will present a two-day event this summer—a weekend program held Saturday and Sunday, June 29–30. The weekend will feature two concerts and family activities exploring the social power of music in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

As in previous years, the two-day event will take place on the National Mall. Jefferson Drive will be closed to traffic between Seventh and 12th streets to accommodate the program. Outdoor concerts will be held on the Mall near the Smithsonian Metro station. Family activities Sunday, June 30, will be held on the plaza in front of the Freer Gallery of Art. There will be food and beverages available for purchase, but unlike previous years, there will be no Festival Marketplace. In the past, Folklife Festivals were held during two five-day periods beginning in late June.

Although planning was underway, a two-day Festival event became necessary after several key scheduling delays. “Changing this year’s scope and scale enabled us to respond to a shortened production window and to continue our long-standing tradition of cultural exchange, exploration and engagement on the National Mall,” said Sabrina Lynn Motley, director of the Folklife Festival. “The theme of this year’s Festival is the social power of music. Performances and activities will explore music’s capacity to promote understanding, transcend differences and encourage social cohesion.”

On Saturday, June 29, from 6 to 10 p.m., the Festival will present a concert featuring a set curated by the Grammy Award-nominated rapper Goldlink and rapper, producer and spoken-word artist Ruby Ibarra; others are to be announced.

On Sunday, June 30, the Festival will host “A Smithsonian Folkways Family Concert Honoring the Life and Legacy of Pete Seeger” from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Musicians from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, including Sonia De Los Santos, The Bright Siders, Dan Zanes + Claudia Eliaza and Elizabeth Mitchell, will perform. Also Sunday, visitors can participate in family activities including percussion workshops and community sing-alongs on the Freer Gallery’s plaza. More information about these programs can be found at

Since its inception in 1967, the Festival has become a national and international model of a research-based presentation of contemporary, living cultural traditions. Over the years, it has brought more than 2,300 musicians, artists, performers, craftspeople, workers, cooks, storytellers and others from all 50 states and 100 countries to the National Mall to demonstrate the skills, knowledge and aesthetics that embody the creative vitality of community-based traditions.

The Folklife Festival will resume its traditional 10-day format in 2020. Next year’s Festival plans to explore how people use cultural knowledge to adapt to environmental change, with programs from Brazil, Benin, the Baltics and southern coastal U.S. states.

The 2019 Folklife Festival is part of the Smithsonian Year of Music, an Institution-wide initiative celebrating the Smithsonian’s vast musical collections and resources through 365 days of music-related programming and events. When combined, the Smithsonian’s musical holdings, activities and events make it the largest music museum in the world. The Year of Music spotlights and shares these musical resources with the public at events and in museums, as well as online. More information and a full schedule of events can be found at

About the Festival

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, inaugurated in 1967, honors contemporary living cultural traditions and celebrates those who practice and sustain them. Produced annually by the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in partnership with the National Park Service, the Festival has featured participants from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Follow the Festival on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

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Linda St. Thomas