Hungary - Guest Country at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Publicated on: May 31, 2013

This year Hungary will be the guest country at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival from Wednesday through Sunday, June 26-30 and July 3-7. The program entitled “Hungarian Heritage: Roots to Revival” will feature on the National Mall more than 100 participating performers from Hungary.

The musicians, dancers, craftspeople and cooks will share and celebrate the diversity of Hungarian folk customs and traditions. The Festival will be outdoors at its traditional location on the National Mall between 7th and 14th streets. Admission is free. Festival hours are from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day, with evening concerts and dances beginning at 6 p.m. Side events (concerts from folk to jazz, fashion shows, exhibitions, movie days) will be running parallel during the festival throughout the city at different locations.

“The program is designed to highlight Hungary’s rich culture and ethnic diversity, which has resulted from its strategic location at the crossroads of Central Europe,” said program curator Jim Deutsch. The title “Roots to Revival” refers to the vitality of Hungarian folk traditions. The program emphasizes this vitality through encouraging visitor participation to give a true experience of Hungarian folk tradition. Everyone will be able to take part in dance courses, learn folk songs, or try their talents on various folk instruments. The artists and performers are dedicated to teaching folk traditions in addition to being excellent performers.

Roots to Revival will also showcase the richness of Hungarian folk traditions and present them in the multicultural setting they hail from. It will present the folk art of several regions including Kalocsa, Karcag, and Bácska (Hungary) and Gyimes, Szék and Kalotaszeg (in Transylvania, Romania) and feature contributions of the Hungarian-American communities, numbering up to 1.5 million by some estimates. Hungarian-American folk dance groups will perform along with artists coming from Hungary.

The music program will cover an exciting selection from traditional folk music to folk inspired contemporary jazz and world music. Artists like Eszter Bíró will complement the repertoire of some of the more traditional folk musicians such as Kodoba Florin, Réka Juhász to name only a few. The selection of musicians will also present a variety of folk traditions from Hungary featuring bands like Parno Graszt that plays Roma music and Bob Cohen who plays Klezmer music.

Besides dancers and musicians the program will feature an open kitchen demonstration, embroidering, hat making, furniture painting, wickerwork and oven building demonstrations. A fashion show presenting traditional folk inspired motifs on contemporary dresses will give an opportunity to meet the designer and learn about the Hungarian fashion industry. The Festival’s Marketplace will offer a selection of the works created by the artisans for purchase.

Foodies will have the chance to try some of the best that Hungarian cuisine has to offer on the Mall and in the Grand Hyatt Washington. Beside a staple of Hungarian classics like goulash, the menu will feature dishes from Roma, Jewish, and Serbian minorities such as chulent, shashlik and lecsó. A selection of Hungarian wines will be served in the adjoining bar.

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