Escape plan: Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Get a taste for South America at the annual free festival on the National Mall

  • The Smithsonian Folklife Festival takes place on the National Mall in Washington. This year's fest focuses on the culture of Colombia.
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival takes place on the National… (Jeff Tinsley, Smithsonian…)
July 03, 2011|By Hsia-Ting Chang, The Baltimore Sun

If you're planning on catching the fireworks in D.C. today, you might want to get there a few hours early.

While the fireworks aren't until nightfall, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival runs all day on the National Mall. Every year, the 10-day festival celebrates the culture of a different country; this year, it's Colombia.

There, you can learn the slinky salsa or romantic tango from traditional dancers, feast your eyes on leather goods and colorful costumes, or listen to the rhythms of different forms of folk music.

THE PLAN: Colombia is one of the world's leading exports of coffee, and the festival offers a tour on how the pick-me-up is processed. If coffee's not your thing, you can learn how the country of Georgia makes its wine. Then wander the exhibits on Colombia's ecosystems to explore the Andean highlands, the southeastern plains and the Amazon rain forest, among others. Wind down by listening to the sounds of the Funk Brothers in the late afternoon.

THE DETAILS: The Folklife Festival is free, and runs June 30-July 4 and July 7-11. Festival hours are 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m., with special events taking place later most nights. For more information, including daily schedules of events, go to

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