China and Kenya Are the Stars at This Year’s Folklife Festival

In the spirit of summer, Washington, D.C., celebrates the 48th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall. Thousands of visitors attend the festival each year to explore diverse cultural traditions from around the world. The festival is open to the public June 25 to June 29 and July 2 to July 6.

This year, the festival will feature two programs: “China: Tradition and the Art of Living” and “Kenya: Mambo Poa.” Visitors are invited to enjoy a variety of family-friendly activities — from traditional dance shows and musical performance to food demonstrations and art displays.

Michael Atwood Mason, director of Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Culture Heritage, welcomed visitors and performers to the festival at the opening ceremony June 25. After opening remarks, the Dimen Dong Folk Chorus performed a traditional Chinese song and introduced Thomas Wesonga and his Kenyan program singers to the stage for a Kenyan song and dance routine.

Activities offered in the China section of the festival include martial arts and dance performances, pottery and textile art displays, calligraphy, a teahouse and cooking demonstrations of traditional Chinese cuisine. Here, you can taste the flavors of China by sampling lo mein or pork dumpling dishes at the Chi Fan Le tent.

If you’re craving traditional Kenyan food, Spice Routes Café offers chicken curry, goat stew, samosas and mahamri, a sweet donut-like pastry. While you’re eating, enjoy the vibrant sounds of Kenyan music, such as benga, taarab, ohangla and chakacha, which combine traditional instruments with contemporary rhythms and styles.

The festival is open for ten days on the National Mall, rain or shine, and will feature a variety of activities and performances that change daily for guests of all ages. Admission is free. For more information, visit

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