Hungarian folklife on the National Mall

by | Sep 23, 2013 | News

The Hungary Foundation partly funded the Hungarian Heritage: Roots to Revival Program at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Between June 26 and July 7 2013, hundreds of thousands of visitors enjoyed Hungarian folk culture in full color, sound, taste, smell, and motion on Washington D.C.’s National Mall.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival: A piece of Hungarian culture in the heart of Washington D.C.

The Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, held annually in Washington, D.C. since 1967, presents international folk traditions in a live setting. This year’s festival featured “Hungarian Heritage: Roots to Revival.” One hundred folk musicians, dancers, artists and craftspeople from Hungary and ethnic Hungarian communities in the surrounding countries traveled to Washington to display their skills. Each day, 50,000 to 150,000 visitors immersed themselves in rich and vibrant Hungarian folk heritage: they enjoyed the music, tasted the food, took dance lessons, and tried their hand at traditional crafts. Concerts and folk dance performances rounded out the evenings.

The Festival was funded in large part by The Hungary Foundation. The donation of $150,000 of our Foundation made it possible to construct the iconic festival structures, like the carved-wood Dance Barn and the Peacock Tower as well as the crowd-favorite 10-foot tall Puli Dog wood slat sculpture. The fund also contributed to the invitation and presentation of several cultural programs, like music and dance ensembles and a fashion show.

The Festival was opened by HIF President and CEO, Dr. Tamás Fellegi. In his opening speech he emphasized the significance of Hungary’s presence at the National Mall and expressed his gratitude to the organizers at the Smithsonian Institute.

“This is a wonderful tradition that through the universal language of culture greatly strengthens and fosters the friendship and understanding between various nations and their peoples. It is a great honor for my country to be here and to have the opportunity to present the unique and rich Hungarian culture, art, and folk life traditions to visitors from America and all around the world. It is symbolic that the first program our Foundation supports is the Smithsonian Folklife Festival; it will be the first important step towards our great mission of deepening the understanding and ties between our great nations.”

The success of the Festival is also largely due to the festival organizers (among others the Budapest-based Balassi Institute and its Director Pál Hatos; the Hungarian Cultural Center in New York City and its Director Dr. Ágnes Fülemile; the Hungarian Embassy in Washington, and the Hungarian American Coalition), as well as countless enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers through the Hungarian American community.

In the history of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the “Hungarian Heritage: Roots to Revival” programs’ attendance reached a new record. These 10 days have showcased the wonderful traditions and talents of Hungary and greatly multiplied the number of fans of the unique Hungarian folklife and culture that we are all so proud of.

More pictures, video and audio gallery:


Opening ceremony summary

Hungarian Heritage Program Introduction

Fölszállott a páva Washingtonban (MTV’s special report in Hungarian language)

American Hungarian Federation’s video on the Festival


Opening speech Dr Fellegi Smithsonian:

Download (PDF, 12KB)

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