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Smithsonian Celebrates Culture of Peru at the 49th Annual Folklife Festival

“Perú: Pachamama” Brings Peruvian Artisans and Musicians to the National Mall


Visitors to the 49th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival will experience the culture of Peru, one of the most ecologically and culturally diverse countries in the world. The Folklife Festival will take place Wednesday, June 24, through Sunday, June 28, and Wednesday, July 1, through Sunday, July 5. It will be located on the National Mall, between Third and Fourth streets S.W., adjacent to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Admission to the Festival is free and hours are from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day, with special evening events beginning at 7 p.m. The Festival is co-sponsored by the Republic of Peru Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (MINCETUR) and presented in partnership with the National Park Service. Additional support provided by Reagan National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport.

Perú: Pachamama

“Perú: Pachamama” will feature more than 150 participants highlighting the diversity and vitality of Peruvian and Peruvian American communities. Musicians, dancers, craftspeople and cooks will show how Peruvians are adapting and preserving their traditional culture. Two themes—bridging past and present and reuniting community—highlight the distinctive links between Peru’s diverse communities.

“The Festival will go beyond stereotypes by focusing on the people behind the archaeology, traditions and crafts,” said program co-curator Olivia Cadaval. “We hope that Festival visitors will come away with a greater sense of how local communities use traditional culture both to honor and reinterpret their heritage.”

Visitors to the Festival will meet participants from 12 different Peruvian communities, including fishermen from the coastal town of Huanchaco who make reed rafts, two sisters from the Huancayo region who continue their family tradition of engraving artwork on gourds and a dance troupe from the crossroads-town of Paucartambo whose famous celebration of the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen draws tourists from around the world.

One of the many highlights of the Festival includes a suspension rope bridge or q’eswachaka (in Quechua q’eswa means “to braid” and chaka means “bridge”). Rebuilt every year by four communities from the Andean province of Canas, the bridge represents more than 600 years of social history, technological ingenuity and cultural pride. Visitors will see the creation of a bridge from the twists of its first braids to the rituals marking its completion. After the Festival closes, sections from the bridge will enter the National Museum of the American Indian’s permanent collection.

Weavers from the Center of Traditional Textiles in Cusco, a city in southeastern Peru, will discuss the importance of animals to their crafts and visitors may meet some alpacas at the Festival. The Wachiperi and Kukama communities from the Amazon will demonstrate how their language and culture are closely linked with nature by sharing projects that bridge environmental and linguistic sustainability efforts.

Peruvian food is closely connected to the diverse ecosystems of the country. Famous for fresh seafood, pisco and the innovative use of traditional techniques and ingredients, Peruvian cuisine is rapidly becoming familiar to many Americans. Demonstrations at El Fogón Kitchen will show the diversity and symbolism of foodways in Peru, how foods like quinoa and ceviche are prepared and the role certain dishes play in Peruvian communities.

Visitors can enjoy a wide array of Peruvian music and dance, including cumbia amazónica, huayno, contradanza, danza Sarawja, Afro Peruvian music and the Marinera—the national dance of Peru. Visitors can also join the celebration of several of Peru’s famous fiestas at La Plaza, an informal gathering place for games, rituals and celebratory processions at the Festival.

Sundays are Festival Community Days (June 29 and July 5), which celebrate the culture and traditions of Peruvian Americans. Performances, food demonstrations, workshops and discussion sessions will highlight the effect of migration on cultural traditions.

Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert Honors California’s Migrant Communities

The 2015 Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert will feature the music of California’s Latino communities and will provide a preview for a future Festival program on California, a state currently and historically home to many of America’s immigrants. On Sunday, June 28, at 7 p.m. an award-winning lineup of artists will present diverse soundscapes emerging from the Latino communities of California’s traditions of social justice activism and connection to the land.

Marketplace and Concessions

The Festival Marketplace will feature crafts handmade by Festival participants and other Peruvian master artists, musical recordings, Festival merchandise and a selection of specialty food items. Visitors will be able to meet the craftspeople who created many of the Peruvian specialties available. The Marketplace will be located inside the atrium of the National Museum of the American Indian, June 24 through July 12, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Traditional Peruvian meals, snacks and beverages will be sold at three concession stands.


Large-print versions of the daily schedule and food concession menus will be available at information kiosks and the volunteer tent. Volunteers will be on call to assist wheelchair users. The performance stages, discussion stages and El Fogón Kitchen are equipped with induction loops. Service animals are welcome. American Sign Language interpreters will be on site to interpret selected performances and presentations. An additional interpreter is on site each day for visitors with requests beyond the scheduled events. Real-time captioning (CART) will be provided for selected performances and presentations.

To request other access services not listed above, call (202) 633-2921 or email

Peru at the Smithsonian

This year the Smithsonian is bringing the vibrancy, history and biodiversity of Peru and the Andes mountain region of South America to the nation’s capital. Through the public debut of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s newest Andean bear cubs, the opening of “The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire” exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian and the Folklife Festival, visitors will learn about the rich history, culture and biodiversity of Peru.

About the Festival

The Folklife Festival, inaugurated in 1967, honors people from across the United States and around the world. The Festival unites presenters and performers in the nation’s capital to celebrate the diversity of cultural traditions. It is produced by the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.    

Follow the Festival on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube. Festival fans can also keep up with each day’s events through the Festival Blog.

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