Saturday, June 25, 2022

Still Life with Robin: FolkLife with Smithsonian

Falcon at the FolkLife Festival
by Peggy Robin

The FolkLife Festival is back in business after a two-year detour into the world of virtual reality. 

This year's festival seems smaller than in the past....but maybe that's because I went yesterday afternoon when there were workers busy constructing more booths and setting up more exhibits. The two main themes of this event are United Arab Emirates: Living Landscape and Earth Optimism.

Even if I did not see everything there was to see, I did see a lot of fascinating and fun things. The full schedule of events is here: I especially recommend these exhibits:

  • Falconry! See these magnificent birds and learn how they are kept and trained....and you can even hold one. (They were not letting the birds fly when I was there.)
  • Beekeeping - with a taste of honey!
  • Perfumes and Fragrances in the UAE. 
  • Mushrooms - Meet some mushroom experts, see, touch and smell some unusual fungi
  • Growing vegetables and herbs in upright containers. You can have a vegetable garden even if you don't have a yard!


Basic Info:

DATES: June 22–27 and June 30–July 4

HOURS: Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with evening concerts most nights at 6:30 p.m. Free film screenings begin at 10 a.m. in Folklife Studio

More details at Smithsonian Folklife Festival Visitor Information.    

A few tips for the trip:

Pick up a festival brochure when you arrive. They're free and available at information stations at both ends of the festival and in the middle too. It can help to direct you to the events that are on during your visit and allow you to plan your time efficiently. The brochure is also available as a .pdf:,. 

Bring an empty water bottle. You can fill it from one of the large barrels of water with spigots available at intervals along the mall.

Wear a hat & sunglasses. Many but not all of the pavilions and booths are set up in the shade, but there's still a lot of walking in full sun - and the glare can be intense.

A little battery fan and/or a cooling bandana will keep you from roasting.

Avoid the port-a-potties. They are baking in the sun and must be like little ovens. It's easy enough to pop into the nicely air-conditioned Smithsonian Castle to use a real bathroom. And here's a little bonus: on your way to the bathroom, take a look at the giant-sized space suit in the glass case right by the entrance. It was used by astronauts working outside the space station on various needed repairs. It has 14 layers of protection (so says the information card).


Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.  

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