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The Smithsonian Folklife Festival kicks off their 2015 Peruvian-themed opening ceremony at the National Mall today. The festival will run June 24-28 and July 1-5. Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the slow psychedelic grooves of Cumbia music, phosphorescent street art, local Peruvian cuisine and traditional dance performances. Check out some of our picks for can’t miss events.

June 24 – Wachiperi Archery

Learn how to kill stuff the Wachiperi way! With total regard for the land and environment, the ancient Peruvian Wachiperi community is known for their hunting skills that respect the vast vegetation and wildlife of the Amazon. This demonstration will feature archery bows and arrows hand-crafted in the Wachiperi tradition.

June 25/27 – Wachiperi Healing

Interested in apothecary or herb-based healing? Then you should find this workshop on the medicinal use of native Amazonian plants particularly compelling. Being the ‘gatherers’ of the community, Wachiperi women take the lead on specialized skills that combines a knowledge of traditional healing methods with an expertise on Amazonian flora.

June 28 – Los Wembler’s de Iquitos

Lead by patriarch guitarist, Solomon Sánchez Saavedra, Los Wembler’s de Iquitos are widely credited for originating the cumbia Amazónica genre that celebrates traditional customs of daily Peruvian life. Listening to Los Wembler’s de Iquitos will take you back the 1970’s golden era preserving the natural rhythms and melodies of Cumbia Chicha music. As far as authentic Peruvian music goes, these guys are the real deal.

June 26/July 3 – Decorating the Alpaca

While the description for this event may imply that its for children, I am a grown person who is very enticed by the idea of tying colorful ribbons to the ears of extremely cute animals. The tradition of decorating the alpaca is used later in the day for the fiber blessing ceremony to promote traditional methods of Peruvian textile manufacturing.

June 28 – Billy Castillo & Amigos

The cajón is a wooden box that you sit on and slap to create the percussive magnitude of a full five piece drum set.  Its a small set up with a huge sound, and a staple of Peruvian music. Billy Castillo is a maker of these instruments, and his band of Amigos will surely feature this nifty little box in their performance on June 28th

July 2 – Urban Art

Innovators of hand-crafted fluorescent silkscreen posters, artists MONKY and Elliot Túpac will discuss the history, development and techniques of the Peruvian street art, Chicha.

July 4 – La Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen de Paucartambo

Mixing the cultural tradition of retelling historical narratives with a dance derived from an old Spaniard procession, thirteen dance groups reenact the economic and social events of a once commercially important town between the Andes and the Amazon.

July 5 – Peruvians in the U.S.

As a conclusion to the weeklong celebration of culture, Folklife fully integrates the positive consequences of the interconnectedness between the United States and Peru with the performance Peruvians in the US, showcasing artists that incorporate the traditional folk music and dance of Andean culture with influences from living in the American cities of New York and D.C.

All images courtesy of Smithsonian Institute

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