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*.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- *The Smithsonian won a Latin Grammy in 2019.