We’ve rounded up some DC-area global fun to take your family around the world in the comfort of your metro car. After all, isn’t access to free, or mostly free, cultural treasures the reason we love DC in the first place?
This year, we’re particularly excited about the number and diversity of family programs at the oft-overlooked National Museum of African Art. They have several family activities each week, everything from Ethiopian dance to African storytelling to art workshops to (our favorite) drumming.
And we’re dancing in our seats looking at this month’s Millenium Stage lineup—tons of global offerings as they feature Bob Marley’s legacy, music from the Smithsonian Folk Festival, and UNHCR Day. Too much to cram it all into this post but definitely check out the Kennedy Center’s website.
Finally, how lucky are we to have National Geographic right here in our city? This summer, they celebrate 125 years of adventure with a new exhibition, The New Age of Exploration, featuring interactive exhibits and, of course, breathtaking photography.
Fête de la Musique
June 22, 12pm to 3am
Inspired by France’s Fête de la Musique, the Alliance Française and Malmaison will play host to a summer journey through many musical worlds. Taking place along the Potomac River, this grand fête will transform Malmaison and the surrounding area into a haven where musicians, music enthusiasts, artists, and food lovers alike will collide for an all-day musical experience. Participating artists include Honest Haoloway,Gramophonic, and La Unica
NGA Jazz in the Garden (National Gallery Sculpture Garden)
The Jazz in the Garden Series begins its 13th season May 24. The free concert series features an array of jazz artists performing a wide variety of styles—including salsa, blusion, xylophone, and Afrofunk—every Friday evening from 5:00 to 8:30 at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. Some global highlights:
Chopteeth: Afro-fund big band, May 31, 5pm to 8:30pm
Hendrik Meurkens: harmonica, June 21, 5pm to 8:30pm
Ernest “EC3” Coleman and Friends: Latin jazz, July 5, 5pm to 8:30pm
Incendio: Latin guitar, July 26, 5pm to 8:30pm
National Gallery of Art: Stories in Art, American Adventure (ages 4 to 7)
July 12-14, July 19-21, July 26-28, August 2-4 at 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, and 1:30
Free, no advance registration necessary
Would you like to take a road trip across the United States this summer? Pack your imagination and travel to the National Gallery of Art! Explore the nation’s coasts, forests, farms, and mountains through works of art. After investigating paintings to learn about American artists, make a souvenir to document each adventure. You will receive a passport to the Summer Story Series and a stamp for each program attended. Collect three or more stamps to receive a prize!
Natural History Museum: Ocean Origami
World Ocean Day, June 8, 1pm to 3pm
June 8th is the international World Oceans Day. Come find out how you are connected to the ocean and create your own ocean creature to take home with you.
National Museum of African Art
Note: They have an amazing array of activities this summer—too many for us to list here. This is just a sample. See the website for more programs.
July 2, 2pm: Performance by Fendik blends creative movements and sounds with Ethiopia’s ancient azmari traditions of bardic minstrels.
July 3, 1-3pm: The Big Draw: Family Workshop. Come learn about African art and drawing techniques, then draw in the galleries.
July 9, 2pm: Maria Broom and David Foreman present an engaging program mixing music, drumming, and fun for all ages. Maria is an actress, storyteller, and dancer, and dancer David (also knows as Jali-D) plays the African drums.
ImaginAsia: Freer/Sacker Museums (ages 8 to 14, free)
June 15 and 16, July 6 and7, 2pm
Children’s Toys: Discover mysterious miniature objects created in China hundreds of years ago. In the classroom, make your own miniature clay person, animal, or object to take home.
July 13, 14, 20 and 21, 2pm
Beautifully Bound: Tour the exhibit, then create your own Japanese book using elegant handmade papers for your cover and tanzaku slips for your title, and then bind them together with a traditional Japanese sewing technique.
July 27 and 28, 2pm
Soaring Phoenix: Explore the mythology and symbolism surrounding phoenixes in Chinese art, as seen in objects in the Freer Gallery’s collection, then fly a phoenix kite on the National Mall. Kites and instruction provided.
Discovery Theater, Smithsonian
June 26, 10:15 and 11:30, Baird Auditorium, Natural History Museum
Lesole South Africa: Take a joyous journey to the African continent as Lesole Maine and his dancers perform Zulu, gumboot, Tswana and street dance of South Africa.
National Geographic Museum
Pirate Family Day, June 22, 10am (free)
Ahoy, me mateys! Tired of the same old pirate stories? National Geographic Museum brings Real Pirates to life with historical re-enactors, telescope making, and traditional pirate tunes. Create your own jolly roger, see a live pirate show and falconry demonstration, learn how to build a boat and dive into the world of underwater archaeology
A New Age of Exploration, Opening June 13
A New Age of Exploration: Since its founding in 1888, National Geographic has inspired explorers from around the world. Celebrate 125 years of vivid storytelling through stunning photography, film, and interactive experiences. Follow Geographic’s continuing exploration of world environments and cultures, from the top of Mount Everest to the remote Amazonian rainforests.
Millenium Stage (check website for more global performances)
Free (all shows at 6pm, no tickets required)
June 8, Target Family Night with Sin Miedo salsa band
June 20, UNHCR World Refugee Day with Grammy winner Cheick Hamala Diabate and book-signing by international bestselling author Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner).
June 22, Emmanuel Jall, world-famous Southern Sudan hip hop artis
June 17, Los Masis, traditional Bolivian ensemble.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival
June 26-30 and July 3-7,11am to 5:30pm plus evening events
The themes of the 2013 program will be: Hungarian Heritage: Roots to Revival; One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage and Will to Adorn: African American Identity and the Aesthetics of DressThe Folklife Festival includes daily and evening music and dance performances, crafts and cooking demonstrations, storytelling and discussions of cultural issues.
National Harbor Dragon Boat Races
August 24, 9am to 4pm
The regatta is an open competition, seeking participants of ages 12 years of age or older. No experience is required and training sessions are being offered. Dragon boat racing is an important part of the Chinese traditional culture, dating back more than 2,300 years.