Update: The festival’s date has been changed to Saturday, August 18th. More information can be found on their site.
Saturday, June 16th, marks the first weekend of summer for students and teachers across the United States. The day will be ripe with options to enjoy it. Pool water will be splashed; cars will be hitting the beltway to their vacation destinations; restaurant patios populated with friends and family catching brunch. It’ll be tough to choose from, but you know you’ll want to start your summer off right. For those in the DC-area on the 16th, a great way to start your summer off with is going to The Around the World Cultural Food Festival.
The Around The World Cultural Food Festival, its own self-organized nonprofit group, is a free to enter, annual, international celebration that immerses attendees a day of cultural activity and imagery. From 11am to 7pm on the National Mall, you can experience the representatives of several countries and cultures that have influenced The United States’, including but not limited to Native Americans, Europeans, Latin Americans, Africans, and Asians. This type of concentrated exposure and hands-on experience is hard to come by. You can spend a whole day and feel like you’ve traveled the world.
What To Explore
Food, food and more food. One thing that connects a person to another, regardless of background, culture, etc., is eating and that’s one part of culture that this festival puts in the forefront. As their site states, “you will find friends from all over the world with foods from Europe, United States, Asia, Middle East, South and Central America.” By providing the opportunity for vendors representing cultures across the world, attendees can enjoy authentic dishes alongside their Washington, D.C. neighbors and contribute to this community-building experience.
There will be only one vendor featured per country so every food tent you go to provides a new menu of options to splurge on. “Greed” should not be in your vocabulary when you go, so feel free to pig out without judgement. This summer, the countries representing with their food include the United States, Yemen, Argentina, India, Columbia and Peru. (Restaurant names below.)
Hit the stage. Throughout the day, the festival’s stages will be full of entertainment with performers dressed in authentic, cultural garbs. Ranging from vocal and instrumental music, dance, chants and more, high levels of creativity will be on display starting at 11:30am. The performing arts is its own language of communication that can speak to someone who is alien to its existence.
From the Flamenco Con Magdalena representing Spain to Amde Entertainment representing Grenada, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago; attendees will not only have the opportunity to not only witness these artists display and express their talents, but also be able to get their own hands dirty and learn some of their moves right there on the stage with them. After an approximately ten-minute lesson, both kids and adults can all leave feeling more self-efficacy in their dancing abilities.
The full list of entertainers show that stage performances kick off at 11:30am and go as long as the rest of the festival.
More Reasons To Go
Culture comes to you. Although Washington, DC is home to many embassies, museums, and different neighborhoods with unique cultures, many locals never have or sometimes think to go out of their way to engage their neighbors across the city. Benning Rd. is different from Capitol Hill which is different from Columbia Heights. The Around The World Cultural Food Festival allows people to experience cultures and fun all in one place.
Regardless of age, the festival is an opportunity to learn without a textbook or a screen in between. It is one of the city’s most accessible ways to get hands-on with dozens of cultures you might have only read about in school books, if your school even has access to books of that kind. And like a Live It Learn It field experience, this will stick with you for the rest of your life the more you engage in it.
Fun For All Ages. This is a family-friendly event with activities for all ages, including children. This is a great opportunity to share with the children in your family and any at your local schools and community centers. You can pre-register on the Event Brite page to help the festival organizers track numbers to report back to funders and fundraising. A suggested $10 donation, less than one month of Netflix, will go towards event costs and “one or more carefully selected organizations who support children’s creative abilities .”
Hope To See You There
So many reasons to go. I hope to have given you enough reason to not only want to be in DC the weekend of the festival, but also to be there as long as you can. There’s so much to experience and it’s all for a good cause. To make it easier for you to attend, you can find below all of the essential logistics you will need. Go ahead and mark it on your calendar now.
Oh! And don’t forget to take pictures to remember your experience and to thank us online on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook (@liveitlearnitDC) if this post sold you on the event.