Smithsonian Folklife Festival Features Hands-On Activities for Families and Children
The Smithsonian’s 42nd annual Folklife Festival will feature a variety of activities for families and children, including crafts and food demonstrations, dance lessons, musical performances and special guides for young visitors. This year’s programs are “Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon,” “NASA: 50 Years and Beyond” and “Texas: A Celebration of Music, Food and Wine.”
The Festival will be held Wednesday, June 25 through Sunday, June 29 and Wednesday, July 2 through Sunday, July 6 outdoors on the National Mall between Seventh and 14th streets. Admission is free. Festival hours are from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day, with such special evening events as concerts and dance parties beginning at 6 p.m. The Festival is co-sponsored by the National Park Service.
“Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon”
Families can begin their exploration of the Bhutan program at the Treasure Hunt tent. Here, they will find the “Treasures of Bhutanese Culture” activity sheet, a guide featuring activities based on Bhutan’s culture and language.
In the Bhutan Hospitality tent, children can color authentic Bhutanese postage stamps and exchange expressions of gratitude with Bhutanese children via mail using the world’s first combined color-your-own stamp and postcard. The postcards will be available for purchase in the Marketplace. In the Painting and Calligraphy tent, families can learn about and try Bhutanese-style painting and drawing. Children also will be able to make prayer flags using a block print.p>
The Food Nest tent will allow families to prepare traditional biscuits. Children can try on kira or gho, the regional clothing of Bhutan, in the Weaving tent. They also can cheer on archers competing in Bhutan’s national sport and watch demonstrations of other recreational activities, including darts, javelin, stone-tossing and wrestling.
On most days, Bhutanese dance groups will get families moving during hour-long lessons on the Tsechu stage, where Bhutan’s Royal Academy of Performing Arts also will present traditional folk dances and groups of monks will perform ritual dances from sacred festivals.
“NASA: 50 Years and Beyond”
In the “NASA: 50 Years and Beyond” program, children will have the opportunity to learn about the different aspects of NASA work culture, the numerous and diverse projects of the agency’s professionals and how their work sets them apart through a variety of hands-on activities. Young visitors up to the challenge can obtain a “Mission Guide” activity booklet at the Kids’ Space tent and complete four activities outlined within it, including comparing satellite images of Earth, learning about how craters are formed by tossing meteor marbles at a simulated planetary surface, interviewing NASA workers to discover career options, learning robotics terms and discovering the truth about NASA-derived products. Children can then return to the Kids’ Space tent to receive an official NASA pin. Other family activities, including rocket launches, will be featured daily at the Kids’ Space tent.
In the center of the program site, Astro Camp members will lead human space flight activities; and throughout the site, families can explore space gear models and a lunar landscape complete with rovers. Boy and Girl Scouts will be on site during two Youth Days—Thursday, June 26 and Thursday, July 3—working closely with NASA program participants to earn merit badges.
All visitors will be given the opportunity to share their memories and thoughts about NASA and its historic moments at the Oral History tent.
“Texas: A Celebration of Music, Food and Wine”
While adults learn how wine is made, children can get their feet wet at the daily “wine stomp” in the program’s Texas Wine Making tent. Families can pick up a few steps from the dancers at the Dancehall stage and enjoy a variety of performances and concerts at the Opry House stage.
About the Festival
The Folklife Festival, inaugurated in 1967, honors people from across the United States and around the world. With approximately 1 million visitors each year, the Festival unites presenters and performers in the nation’s capital to celebrate the diversity of cultural traditions. It is produced by the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The Festival’s Web site is http://www.folklife.si.edu.
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