Following shutdown, Smithsonian Folklife Festival shortened to 2 days

This year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival is going to be a two-day event, rather than the 10 days the program has been in recent years.

The government shutdown played a role in the shorter festival, festival director Sabrina Lynn Motley told WTOP. Organizers decided not to cancel the festival but instead shorten its scope in 2019.

“We know that the Folklife Festival has many dedicated fans. We spent a lot of time talking about them as well as the scores of artisans, dancers, and musicians who travel from around the globe to share their stories on the National Mall,” Motley said.

“In the end, we decided not to cancel, but to do what we could to produce a strong — if smaller — event for 2019 while simultaneously ensuring a robust 2020 Festival.”

The festival is Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30 on the National Mall. There will be food and drinks available to buy but there won’t be a Festival Marketplace like there usually is.

The change in length is because of scheduling delays, the Smithsonian Institution said in a statement.

Although the 10-day period is expected of the festival, there is precedent for the event being shorter, and sometimes longer, than the usual length of 10 days.

“Changing this year’s scope and scale enabled us to respond to a shortened production window and to continue our long-standing tradition of cultural exchange, exploration and engagement on the National Mall,” Motley said.

The theme of 2019’s festival is the social power of music. Outdoor concerts will be held near the Smithsonian Metro station, while family activities will be found near the Freer Gallery of Art.

Organizers expect the 2020 Smithsonian Folklife Festival to be the usual 10 days.

WTOP’s Mike Murillo contributed to this report.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at, part of Government Executive Media Group.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2019 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up