If your budget won’t take you and your family abroad this summer, you’re not alone. Other than a weekend at the Jersey Shore (my first—more on that later), and a drive up to Maine in late August, we’ll be vacationing locally.

But fear not! I’ve rounded up some free 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?
DC Caribbean Festival, June 23-24, 2012, Bladensburg, MD

DCCC will showcase the Annual Pan Jam, with local Steelbands and the Annual Dimanche Gras featuring the judging of costumes and live entertainment. www.dccaribbeanfestival.org

Summer Story Series: Tour de France, National Gallery of Art, July
Would you like to visit France this summer? Pack your imagination and travel to the National Gallery of Art! Explore scenes of France, from its countryside to the bustling urban center of Paris, through works of art in the French galleries. You’ll meet French artists in children’s books, investigate paintings, and make a souvenir to document each adventure. Participants will receive a passport to the summer story series and a stamp for each program attended. At the end of the summer, children with three or more stamps will receive a prize! See website for dates and times: http://www.nga.gov/kids/

Truckeroo, July 13, August 10, September 28

Can’t decide which food truck to hunt down for dinner? Go to Truckeroo and you’ll find dozens of the area’s best food trucks with food from all over the world, including some interesting fusion fare (Korean taco, anyone?) You’ll also find live music and beer–the trifecta of outdoor events.  www.truckeroodc.com

Asian Food and Tennis Festival, July 21-22, George Mason University

The Asian Food and Tennis Festival is a free event that features unique music, cultural performances, food, beauty pageants, fashion, handicrafts, gifts, and other products and entertainment. This year, the theme is “The Year of Dragon” featuring: Heritage India, It’s More Fun in Philippines, Image of China and Amazing Thailand. The Festival will also include an all-day prized money tennis tournament, USTA Smash Zone mobile tour, stage performances, contests, interactive demonstrations, children interactive area–as well as “Destination Asia,” where Asian embassies and organizations exhibit their cultures, arts, and cooking demonstration. www.asianfestivaldc.com

Inspired by India: A Family Celebration, August 11, Sackler Gallery

Celebrate the cultures of the Indian subcontinent at this all-day family event. Watch kathak dancing by Prashant and Prachi Dalal, who performed at the White House last year, and Indian flute and tabla music by John Wubbenhorst and Samrat Kakkeri. Listen to Indian stories, decorate yourself with bindis and henna stamps, and make your own rakhi bracelets. Watch artists create kolam (rice-powder paintings), join curator-led tours of Worlds within Worlds, and finish the day with the classic Bollywood film Mughal-e-Azam at 5:30 pm (185 min.) http://www.asia.si.edu/events/imaginasia.asp

Jazz in the Garden, National Gallery Sculpture Garden, all summer long

(Global Highlights)

July 6: Afro Bop Alliance (Afro-Cuban jazz)

July 13: Juanita Williams (jazz vocalist)

July 20: The Young Lions (fusion jazz)

July 27: Incendio (Latin guitar world fusion jazz)


Virginia Scottish Games, September 1-2, The Plains, VA

The Virginia Scottish Games celebrates Alexandria’s Scottish Heritage. The cornerstone of the event is the highland athletic competition. The Games will host many of the top-ranked professional athletes in North America to include several who have competed at the recent World Championships.

The Virginia Scottish Games includes piping & drumming, highland dancing, and fiddling competitions along with sheep-herding demonstrations, an antique car show, a variety of vendors & crafters, clan and society exhibits, a living history encampment, children’s activities, live entertainment and plenty of Scottish food and drink. Yes, they have haggis! www.vascottishgames.org