Deets: The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian celebrates the first Saturday of summer—Solstice Saturday—beginning with an afternoon of Andean music, dance and family-friendly activities celebrating the Great Inka Road. At 7 p.m., the celebration becomes the Solstice Illuminated Dance Party, taking place on the museum’s Welcome Plaza. There will be a DJ, refreshments, fun and food and all the galleries will be open throughout the evening.
The festivities showcase “The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire.” This first major bilingual exhibition on the South American civilization explores why the construction of the Inka Road more than 500 years ago stands as one of the world’s greatest engineering feats. Without access to iron, in mountains too steep for wheeled transport or stock animals to pull heavy loads, the Inka built a road network the length of the Andes, linking the headwaters of the Amazon Basin and the Pacific Coast. (The museum uses the spelling Inka, rather than the more common Inca, because it is consistent with the Indigenous Quechua and Aymara languages.)
Hint for the Average Socialite: The festival is free, but people can also register and check in at the event to receive a glow stick.
3–7 p.m.—Solstice Saturday: Celebrate the Sun!
The museum’s second annual Solstice Saturday opens with traditional Bolivian dancing by Tradiciones Bolivianas, Tinkus Llajtaymanta and Centro Cultural Bolivia, and music by Tarqueada VA USA. Visitors can make their own Andean fan based on the “chakana” (a symbol indicating the four cardinal directions) and add luminescent embellishments to show off later in the evening. They can get inspired by the solar and lunar imagery throughout the museum and decorate their own canvas bag to take home.
7–9:30 p.m.—Solstice Illuminated Dance Party
Visitors can grab a glow stick and dance to a DJ on the Welcome Plaza. Local food trucks and the museum’s Mitsitam Café Espresso Bar will be available with food and drink to purchase. The museum’s membership table will offer a special gift with a museum member card or with new membership that evening. The indoor galleries will also be open through the night. When the sun goes down, visitors can bring their luminescent fan and join a “Comparsa Iluminada”—an illuminated procession—from the festivities to an outdoor gathering on the Welcome Plaza.
Photo Credit: Comparsa Iluminada photo by Matailong Du for the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American IndianThe festival is free, but people can also register and check in at the event to receive a glow stick.