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This summer, the Smithsonian Institution will celebrate cultural diversity with three distinct programs at its 42nd annual Folklife Festival. 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" will share the remote Himalayan country's special approach toward life in the 21st century, which—as national policy—is described as the pursuit of "Gross National Happiness." The program will bring Bhutanese artists, dancers, craftspeople, cooks, carpenters, farmers, representatives of monastic life and others to the National Mall to celebrate the living traditions that define and sustain Bhutan's special culture.
Artisans will introduce Bhutan's 13 traditional arts, known as zorig chusum, and explain how these living artistic traditions link the Bhutanese people to the land. Weavers will showcase the diversity of complex weaving traditions that have made Bhutanese textiles some of the most coveted in the world today. Sculptors, painters and carvers will demonstrate the skilled arts that continue to adorn monasteries and temples, as well as most Bhutanese homes. Monastic dancers will perform for the first time in Washington ritual masked dances from highly choreographed and symbolic sacred festivals (tsechus).
"NASA: 50 Years and Beyond" will present the role that the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have played in broadening the horizons of science and culture, as well as the role that they will continue to play in helping to shape the future and inspiring the public through their exploration missions. The agency was established in 1958 to lead research in aeronautics and space flight for the purpose of gaining knowledge of Earth, the atmosphere and space. It celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
The program will include demonstrations, live presentations, hands-on educational activities, narrative "oral history" sessions and exhibits that explore the spirit of innovation, inspiration and discovery embodied by the agency's personnel. The Festival program will encourage visitors to participate actively, asking questions of astronomers, astronauts, astrophysicists, educators, engineers and other experts, so that they can come away with a better understanding and appreciation of NASA's history and mission.
"Texas: A Celebration of Music, Food and Wine" will feature demonstrations, performances and famous Texas talk about the Lone Star state's proud history and its contemporary traditions. Focusing on the great heritage of music and food from every region of the state, the program will present Texas' rich natural resources, thriving cosmopolitan cities and engaging rural landscapes, where a rich heritage of freedom, optimism, opportunity and achievement contribute to a vibrant contemporary culture.
Visitors will hear presentations of Texas blues, swing, conjunto, country and western, gospel and tejano music; see winemaking demonstrations; and enjoy diverse culinary traditions, including barbeque, kolache making, pan de campo contests and the production of artisan Texas cheeses.
About the Smithsonian Folklife 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.