News Releases

Smithsonian To Explore Basque Culture at 2016 Folklife Festival

August 10, 2015

Visitors to the 2016 Smithsonian Folklife Festival will explore the Basque Country’s unique language and distinct cultural heritage. The 2016 Folklife Festival will take place Wednesday, June 29, through Monday, July 4, and Thursday, July 7, through Sunday, July 10. It will be located on the National Mall, between Fourth and Seventh streets, adjacent to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Admission to the Festival is free and hours are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, with special evening events beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Festival is co-sponsored by the Regional Government of Biscay and presented in partnership with the National Park Service.

The Basque constitute one of the oldest communities in Europe, and today approximately 1 million people worldwide speak Basque, or Euskara, a language once on the brink of extinction and now an example of successful language revitalization. In addition to its language, the Basque Country is well known for its food, crafts, music and poetry. The 2016 Festival will host musicians, cooks, language experts and more from the region to explore themes of cultural sustainability, identity and migration. To that end, the program will also include significant participation of people of Basque descent living throughout the United States.

“Celebrating Basque culture at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an important opportunity to bring forth compelling stories of cultural heritage, vitality and resilience,” said Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), a Basque American who represents California’s Third District. “These are American stories, too. I’m delighted that Festival visitors will also experience Basque traditions that remain an integral part of this country’s cultural landscape.”

The program will be curated by cultural and linguistic revitalization specialist Mary Linn and folklorist and ethnomusicologist Cristina Díaz-Carrera. More information about the 2016 Festival will be released shortly.

About the Festival

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, inaugurated in 1967, honors contemporary living cultural traditions and celebrates those who practice and sustain them. Produced annually by the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the Festival has featured participants from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Follow the Festival on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Festival fans can also keep up with each day’s events through the Festival Blog.

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Man serving traditional Basque food at Jaialdi

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James Mayer