Next date: September 18, 2021 11:00 am

As a recent Latin Grammy recipient and longtime steward of one of the world’s greatest zoos, the Smithsonian is uniquely positioned to host a Zoo Fiesta. [1]

The chief virtue of this mini folklife festival is the small crowd. Focused on the music of Central and South America, Zoo Fiesta also offers a chance to have an up-close encounter with animals from that region.

This armadillo participated in one of the twenty animal demonstrations at ZooFiesta 2019

Pro Tips: Arrive early (only the overflow lot was available when we arrived at 10) and pack a lunch. Activities are focused around lunchtime and the food options are abysmal. Two food trucks complement the standard cheeseburger and chicken finger joints along Olmsted Way.

Poor food options notwithstanding, the low attendance is surprising considering the quality of the acts. We enjoyed both kid-friendly songs (La Bamba, Macarana) and classic Salsa.

Milton Valentín of Latin pop rock band Ocho de Bastos (Eight of Clubs) takes a break between sets at the 2019 ZooFiesta.

Spread across two stages — Lion Hill, near the lower parking lot, and Lemur Pavilion, near the carousel — the performers are just far enough away to avoid clashing with each other.

9-piece Orchestra Zon Zandunga performed in 2018 and 2019 and boasts “Salsa Dura and Romantica like you have never heard” I really need to start working out.

With numerous playgrounds, the National Zoo also allows parents to enjoy a slightly longer day of concert-going than they might experience at a more traditional venue.

Those kids can’t be real.

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  1. 2007 Folk Music Grammy

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