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Smithsonian's Folklife Festival returns to the National Mall

In 2022, the Festival returns to the National Mall after two years of virtual programming.

WASHINGTON — After a two-year hiatus, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival returns to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., with programs designed to spark curiosity, understanding and delight. 

Visitors to the 2022 Smithsonian Folklife Festival can explore the cultural traditions of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism program through two weeks of workshops, demonstrations, performances, family activities and discussion sessions highlighting the importance of culture and community in creating a sustainable future.  

The festival, which runs from June 22 to 27 and June 30 to July 4, will open with an evening concert Wednesday, June 22. Starting June 23, daytime programming will begin at 11 a.m. and run until 6 p.m. daily.

For the first time, certain concerts and special events will be live-streamed.

This year's featured programs include a deep dive into the cultural traditions, arts culture and cuisine of the United Arab Emirates, entitled UAE: Living Landscape | Living Memory.

Credit: Photo by Vidhyaa Chandramohan
Falconry is the most valued traditional sport in the UAE, with increasing participation from women, including falconer, trainer, and Festival participant Ayesha Al Mansoori.

“Traditional knowledge has an important role to play in finding solutions to some of the world’s most intractable problems,” said Folklife Festival Director Sabrina Lynn Motley in a statement. “In the UAE, it’s possible to encounter dynamic links between past, present and future in everything from green technologies to extraordinary poetry. As the festival has done since its inception, curators are creating a program that draws from diverse voices on the ground, challenging us to look beyond headlines, generalizations and stereotypes.”

Credit: Photo courtesy of Mattar Farm
Hattem Mattar, a Texas-trained pitmaster and proprietor of Mattar Farm in Dubai, will present UAE barbecue traditions. Photo courtesy of Mattar Farm

Another featured program is called Earth Optimism, which takes a closer look at what's working in the world of conservation.

Visitors will encounter examples of practical solutions and positive change presented by community leaders, innovators, scientists, artists and others working to create a sustainable planet. 

“I am thrilled to collaborate with my Folklife Festival colleagues,” said Ruth Anna Stolk, Earth Optimism program co-founder. “Earth Optimism × Folklife is a unique opportunity to share stories and learn from conservation successes. When the focus is on solutions rather than problems, we empower people to replicate and scale up these activities in their own communities.” 

Credit: Photo by Martin Dohrn / © Passion Planet
Earth Optimism and HHMI Tangled Bank Studio present a free screening of My Garden of a Thousand Bees on June 24. Photo by Martin Dohrn / © Passion Planet

The festival will also feature a marketplace inspired by an Arab souk. It's laid out as a collection of specialty shops highlighting festival programming  

A full schedule of events can be found here.

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