Smithsonian Folklife Festival To Offer Hands-On Activities for Kids

June 21, 2011
News Release

The 45th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival will feature a variety of fun and interactive activities for families and children. This year’s programs are “Colombia: The Nature of Culture,” “Peace Corps: Fifty Years of Promoting World Peace and Friendship” and “Rhythm and Blues: Tell It Like It Is.”

The Festival will be held Thursday, June 30, through Monday, July 4, and Thursday, July 7, through Monday, July 11, outdoors on the National Mall between Seventh and 14th streets. 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 5:30 p.m. The Festival is co-sponsored by the National Park Service.

“Colombia: The Nature of Culture”

In the Colombia program, kids can pick up a guidebook filled with activities designed to introduce them to the cultural ecosystems of the country. The book, which contains a complimentary postcard from Colombia, features a map that highlights areas of the program where young Festival visitors can go to complete specific activities. Once they have completed five of the activities, kids will receive a free music download from Smithsonian Folkways.

Young visitors can also learn to pack a mule and a jeep, watch circus performers and meet flower vendors and artists making colorful carnival masks.

“Peace Corps: Fifty Years of Promoting World Peace and Friendship”

In the Kids Corps tent, young visitors will receive a passport to begin a series of activities such as writing postcards to children and Peace Corps volunteers overseas, taking a foreign language lesson, helping paint a giant world map mural and more. For each completed activity, kids will receive a stamp in their passport. After completing five activities, children can return to the Kids Corps tent to claim their prize—a specially designed Peace Corps/Smithsonian commemorative pin. Kids also will be able to try a pedal-powered cell phone charger, stomp grapes and enjoy an organic farming display. 

Using their passport, kids also can gain access to a special website that will feature animated characters learning about the Peace Corps and different cultures through games, puzzles and quizzes. 

“Rhythm and Blues: Tell It Like It Is”

The Stax Music Academy, a group made up of students in grades 9 to 12, will be performing during the first week of the Festival. The academy instructors and students will take part in discussion sessions in which they will talk about learning music and the impact it has had on their lives. Kids also can hear blues musicians Nat Dove (June 30 to July 4) and Fernando Jones (July 7 to 11) talk about music camps and teaching music.

The program also will feature twice-daily hand-dancing (a version of the jitterbug) demonstrations.

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 website is

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