About

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an international exposition of living cultural heritage produced every summer on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The 2014 festival dates are June 25–June 29 and July 2–July 6.

· festival.si.edu ·

Luci Murphy, student from Julliard, and Nobuko Miyamoto. Photo by Brian Barger Abigail Washburn and Dimen Dong Folk Chorus sing a wonderful version of Abigail Washburn led an audience sing-a-long to Kenyan band WINYO. Photo by Sandy Wang.

smithsonianfolkways:

Smithsonian Folkways Tribute to Pete Seeger, Citizen Artist

A once-in-a-lifetime gathering of musicians gave a stirring tribute to Pete Seeger at the 2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

If you missed the Festival’s Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert: A smithsonianfolkways Tribute to Pete Seeger, check out the Pinterest board they put together for the event! 

Posted on Thursday, July 17th 2014

Reblogged from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Festival Blog: Celebrating Jamaican Folklore and the Life of Olive Lewin 
“‘Jamaica’s treasure of folk music and some of our oral history would have largely remained unknown and buried in the deep recesses of rural Jamaican culture, were it not for Olive Lewin…. For much of her lifetime, she traveled to the remote rural villages, towns and communities all over Jamaica, attending events featuring Jamaican folk music late into the nights. She sat by the feet of the elders in some of these districts, learning from them our history and culture, ensuring that she thoroughly yet respectfully probed their musical memories.’
Miss Olive, as many including myself referred to her, foregrounded a defining ideological debate that has engulfed polemics about the terminology, substance, and contemporary viability of concepts of folklore, folklife, tradition, and heritage. The diverse community turnout and sing-out is testimony that these terms and the community expressions they figure are vibrantly alive, as is the spirit of Olive Lewin.”
Click here to read more.
Photo from the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution

Festival Blog: Celebrating Jamaican Folklore and the Life of Olive Lewin

“‘Jamaica’s treasure of folk music and some of our oral history would have largely remained unknown and buried in the deep recesses of rural Jamaican culture, were it not for Olive Lewin…. For much of her lifetime, she traveled to the remote rural villages, towns and communities all over Jamaica, attending events featuring Jamaican folk music late into the nights. She sat by the feet of the elders in some of these districts, learning from them our history and culture, ensuring that she thoroughly yet respectfully probed their musical memories.’

Miss Olive, as many including myself referred to her, foregrounded a defining ideological debate that has engulfed polemics about the terminology, substance, and contemporary viability of concepts of folklore, folklife, tradition, and heritage. The diverse community turnout and sing-out is testimony that these terms and the community expressions they figure are vibrantly alive, as is the spirit of Olive Lewin.”

Click here to read more.

Photo from the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution

Posted on Wednesday, July 16th 2014

Artists from the Zhejiang Wu Opera toupe of Zhejiang province represent a 400-year-old tradition of singing, music, acrobatics, pantomime, and dance. This excerpt of a song from the group’s Festival programme tells the story of a beautiful white snake, who falls in love with a human scholar and saves him from being killed by her sister, the treacherous green snake.

Posted on Wednesday, July 16th 2014

Source SoundCloud / SmithsonianFolklife

Festival Blog: Origin of the Erhu and Other Chinese String Instruments

"The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an experience of the senses, an invitation to see, taste, and smell. But for me, more than anything else, the Festival is an auditory experience, with its unparalleled variety of singers, musicians,presenters, and  storytellers.

Working at the Festival for the first time this summer, I was awestruck by the incredible talents of participants who traveled great distances to share their love of music with visitors. In particular, the traditional melodies and instruments of China were enchanting to me, and I learned much through live concerts and daily narrative sessions.”

Click here to read more.

Posted on Wednesday, July 16th 2014

We’ll be featuring Festival audio on our SoundCloud page! You can find music, soundscapes, field interviews, and quick soundbites all gathered at the 2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 

This one comes from the Ih Tsetsn Ensemble, an Inner Mongolian group now based in Beijing. They are known for performing khoomei throat-singing, as well as more contemporary songs, like “The Handsome Horse.” These guys were a Festival favorite!

Posted on Wednesday, July 9th 2014

Source SoundCloud / SmithsonianFolklife

Watch this inspiring video to get a glimpse of the 48th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival! While so much hard work goes into making the Festival happen, it wouldn’t be anything without our participants or our visitors. We invite you to join us over the next two weeks in person - or online if you are far away - to get a taste of the diverse and dynamic traditions and arts of China and Kenya.

Posted on Friday, June 27th 2014

smithsonian-folklife:

Enter your ‘grams into the #first Smithsonian Folklife Festival #InstagramContest. Tag your photo with #FolklifeCapture for a chance to win a personally curated collection of @smithsonianfolkways music! #2014Folklife (at Smithsonian Folklife Festival)

smithsonian-folklife:

Enter your ‘grams into the #first Smithsonian Folklife Festival #InstagramContest. Tag your photo with #FolklifeCapture for a chance to win a personally curated collection of @smithsonianfolkways music! #2014Folklife (at Smithsonian Folklife Festival)

Posted on Thursday, June 26th 2014

Reblogged from

smithsonian-folklife:

Abigail Washburn, a scholar and musician of East Asian culture and American folk music, performs an impromptu song with the Dimen Dong Folk Chorus of Guizhou Province, in the mountains of Southwestern China. Only at the Folklife Festival!! (at Smithsonian Folklife Festival)

Posted on Thursday, June 26th 2014

Reblogged from

In my opinion, critical mass happens every day in China, from 7 to 9 am and 4 to 6 pm. It’s called rush hour.

Kevin Sundeen, 2014 Folklife Festival participant, on biking culture in China. Read Kevin’s Q&A on our Festival blog, and if you’re in the Washington D.C. area, grab your bike and Bike to China on Sunday, June 29, 2014 (11:30 am to 1:30 pm). More info on our website and on Eventbrite.

Posted on Thursday, June 26th 2014

mallhistories:

Today is the first day of the smithsonianfolklife festival! Did you know it was originally the Festival of American Folklife?

The first Festival of American Folklife, held in July 1967, was created by Secretary of the Smithsonian S. Dillon Ripley and James R. Morris. Smithsonian Secretary Dillon Ripley wanted to change museums from stuffy institutions to lively participants in national life. The festival included about 84 folk artists, including musicians, craftsmen and women, singers, and dancers. It has grown to become one of the largest annual cultural events in Washington, bringing more than 23,000 musicians, artists, performers, craftspeople, workers, cooks, storytellers, and others to the National Mall to demonstrate the skills, knowledge, and aesthetics of people around the world.

Learn more at Histories of the National Mall, and if you’re in the area, go enjoy the Festival!

mallhistories:

Today is the first day of the smithsonianfolklife festival! Did you know it was originally the Festival of American Folklife?

The first Festival of American Folklife, held in July 1967, was created by Secretary of the Smithsonian S. Dillon Ripley and James R. Morris. Smithsonian Secretary Dillon Ripley wanted to change museums from stuffy institutions to lively participants in national life. The festival included about 84 folk artists, including musicians, craftsmen and women, singers, and dancers. It has grown to become one of the largest annual cultural events in Washington, bringing more than 23,000 musicians, artists, performers, craftspeople, workers, cooks, storytellers, and others to the National Mall to demonstrate the skills, knowledge, and aesthetics of people around the world.

Learn more at Histories of the National Mall, and if you’re in the area, go enjoy the Festival!

Posted on Wednesday, June 25th 2014

Reblogged from Histories of the National Mall