Visitors to the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival can explore the diverse cultures of Armenia and Catalonia through 10 days of performances, workshops, demonstrations, participatory experiences and discussion sessions that highlight the importance of cultural heritage enterprise in the face of change. The Festival, which runs from June 27 to July 1 and July 4 to 8, will be located on the National Mall between 12th and 14th streets. Admission to the Festival is free, and hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, with special evening events beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Festival is presented by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and co-sponsored by the National Park Service.
Armenia: Creating Home
The “Armenia: Creating Home” program focuses on gastronomic and artisan craft traditions allows visitors to learn about how Armenian communities have integrated heritage into their strategies for economic and cultural sustainability, and how these practices create home. Visitors will learn to make the staples of an Armenian feast, learn about Armenian winemaking and engage with Armenian designers and artisans.
Armenia program partners include the Government of the Republic of Armenia, the Department of Contemporary Anthropological Studies at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, the My Armenia Cultural Heritage Tourism Program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. Embassy in Armenia and the Embassy of Armenia to the United States of America.
Catalonia: Tradition and Creativity from the Mediterranean
The “Catalonia: Tradition and Creativity from the Mediterranean” program will allow visitors to learn about how the creativity of Catalan communities has allowed the Catalan people to sustain the vitality of their distinctive regional culture. Visitors can watch the breathtaking “construction” of human towers or “castells,” which can rise up to 30 feet and involve more than 100 people. While sampling Catalan fare, visitors will learn about the revitalization of artisanal food and wine production across the region.
Catalonian program partners include the Government of Catalonia’s Department of Popular Culture and Cultural Associations; the Provincial Governments of Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona; the Fira Mediterrània de Manresa; the Institut Ramon Llull; and Adifolk, the Association for the Diffusion of Folklife.
Following the Festival’s daytime activities, an evening concert series will take place on the Ralph Rinzler Concert Stage beginning at 6:30 p.m. Seven distinct performances will showcase artists from Armenia, Catalonia and Washington, D.C. Performances are free and open to the public. Food is available for purchase at the festival’s concessions or visitors can bring their own. Select performances will be followed by a special Catalan fireworks display or torch procession.
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival joins “Roadwork,” a Washington, D.C.-based multiracial coalition that puts women artists on the road globally, in celebrating its 40th anniversary. On Sunday, July 8, visitors can celebrate women artists at an evening concert tribute to the Sisterfire music festivals that Roadwork produced in D.C. in the 1980s. Daytime presentations will include poetry, spoken word and reflections from the group.
Marketplace and Concessions
Merchandise produced by Festival artisans and a selection of related Smithsonian Folkways recordings will be available for purchase at the Festival Marketplace, located on the south National Mall side of the National Museum of American History.
Food concessions inspired by Catalan street food and Armenian feasting traditions will be available for purchase throughout the Festival. In addition, the arabbers from Baltimore will continue their 40-year tradition of offering fresh fruit on carts at the Festival.
The Festival strives to maintain an accessible and inclusive environment for visitors of all abilities. Large-print and Braille brochures and menus will be available at information booths and concession stands. Accessible seating is available at all performance venues, and a limited number of wheelchairs will be available for loan each day. All narrative stages are equipped with assistive-listening systems, and American Sign Language interpreters and real-time captioning services are available for select performances. Additional ASL interpreting services, and sighted-guide and verbal-description services are available for visitors upon request.
The Festival will host “Morning at the Mall” Saturday, July 7, at 10 a.m., for individuals with autism, sensory sensitivities or other cognitive disabilities who may benefit from a more relaxed and supported environment. To find out more, or to request other access services not listed above, visitors should call (202) 633-2921 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
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Linda St. Thomas