News Release, Smithsonian Institutes

The Smithsonian will celebrate the first Saturday of summer—“Solstice Saturday”—with free parties, programs and performances June 22. In addition to programs for adults and children throughout the day, most Smithsonian museums will be open until midnight. Visitors who stay late can hear live music, enjoy dance parties and explore museum exhibitions.

Smithsonian museums, research centers and the National Zoo are offering special Solstice Saturday programming in the Washington area and in New York City. The following is a sampling of programs; a full schedule of events can be found at

Daytime Activities

SERC Science Saturday
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (Edgewater, Maryland), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Visitors of all ages are invited to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center for hands-on activities to learn about marine biodiversity and the sounds of the Chesapeake Bay alongside Smithsonian scientists.

Solstice Saturday at Cooper Hewitt
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (New York City), 1–4 p.m.

Visitors 5 and up can celebrate the Solstice Saturday with drop-in design activities in the museum’s Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden; no design experience is required. Visitors can also safely observe the sun through a special sun scope.

ARTLAB: DC Collide
Hirshhorn Museums Plaza, 1–2 p.m.

The Hirshhorn’s ARTLAB+ presents a teen-centered live music and art festival dedicated to celebrating the transformative power of art-based activities for youth. The event will showcase the talents of local teen artists through a collision of live graffiti, DJ battles, hip-hop cypher challenges and musical performances.

Solstice Saturday: New Inca Son
Gustav Heye Center (New York City) , 2–3 p.m.

The richness of Andean folklore comes alive with New Inca Son. Acclaimed in the U.S. and abroad for over 20 years, the group has performed its ancient melodies and dances on world stages. New Inca Son is an award-winning band with a mission: to preserve its indigenous heritage and to instill, particularly in children and young people, an understanding and appreciation of it.

Evening Programs

NMAAHC Live: Big Freedia!
National Museum of African American History and Culture, 7 p.m. 

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, Big Freedia, celebrated Queen of Bounce, comes to the National Museum of African American History and Culture to discuss her life and music through the lens of her autobiography, God Save The Queen. The discussion will be followed by a brief performance by Freedia and short dance party.

Solstice Illuminated Dance Party
National Museum of the American Indian, 7–9:30 p.m. 

The celebration continues at the National Museum of the American Indian, with a dance part on the museum’s Welcome Plaza. Local food trucks and the museum’s Mitsitam Café Espresso Bar will be available with food and drink to purchase. Visitors can cool off with a walk through the indoor galleries, which will be open through the night. When the sun goes down, there will be a “Comparsa Iluminada”—an illuminated procession—from the festivities to an outdoor gathering on the Welcome Plaza.

Solstice Saturday at the Zoo
The National Zoo, 6–10 p.m.

From 6–8 p.m., families can attend a kid-friendly dance party featuring a DJ, food trucks, free temporary tattoos and costume characters on Olmsted Walk near the Zoo’s main Connecticut Avenue entrance. From 8 to 10 p.m., the focus shifts from kids to adults with more music, food trucks and a bar. The evening will also include a screening of a family-friendly film in the Visitor Center auditorium.

Solstice Star Party
National Air and Space Museum, 9:30–11:30 p.m.

Visitors can stargaze in the museum’s Pheobe Waterman Haas Public Observatory and, weather permitting, use a 16-inch reflector telescope to discover the secrets of Jupiter. Museum staff will be available to help use the telescope and answer questions about the moon, planets, stars and more.

Dinosaurs Imagined and Reimagined
National Museum of Natural History, 9–11 p.m.

Matthew Carrano, curator of Dinosauria, will explore the history and special effects of dinosaurs in popular film. Specially selected film clips reveal how movie dinosaurs have inspired audiences, and scientists, for the better part of a century.

Solstice Soundscapes: DJ Ayes Cold and Adiitu
Enid A. Haupt Garden, 5–9:30 p.m.

The National Museum of African Art and the Freer|Sackler are collaborating to bring visitors live music in the Enid A. Haupt Garden. DJ Ayes Cold, a Washington club and bass music DJ known for her eclectic selections, will perform with Adiitu, a Nigerian musician, songwriter and video artist. Visitors can enjoy music in the garden, make their own cosmic buttons, and enjoy the museums galleries until midnight. The National Museum of African Art will offer pop-up tours of its exhibitions from 6 to 9 p.m. Visitors to the Freer|Sackler have a final chance to see the exhibition “Empresses of China’s Forbidden City,” create their own royal portrait on the Sackler Pavilion and watch artisan demonstrations throughout the night.

 “America Now”

The National Museum of American History, Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery are collaborating to present “America Now: Celebration on Music” with activities throughout the day and night at the three locations. Food and drinks will be available for purchase at each location, and all three museums will stay open until midnight. Additional information is available at “America Now” is made possible by the support of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Family Foundation, and The Washington Post is the media sponsor. It is part of the Smithsonian Year of Music 2019.

National Museum of American History
11 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

Daytime festivities begin at the National Museum of American History with a celebration of history and culture of hip-hop through workshops and an outdoor dance party with live DJ performances. Activities are designed for general audiences.

Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery
6 p.m.–midnight

Visitors will enjoy an evening of live musical performances with Washington-based performers, art happenings and more. The evening will open with master of ceremony Christylez Bacon and continue with performances by the Out of Town Blues Band, Rare Essence and DJ Beauty and the Beatz. A special headline performance from Eric Hilton (of Thievery Corporation) with The Archives will close out the night. Recommended for visitors 18 and older.

By The People at Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building

Solstice Saturday is held in association with By The People, an international arts and dialogue festival taking place across Washington June 15-23. The Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building is a hub for the festival, featuring art installations, programs and performances. On June 22 the Arts and Industries Building will feature special Solstice Saturday programming, and will be open from 10 a.m. to midnight. Visitors can enjoy a meditation and movement class, explore art installations, hear from local artists, enjoy live dance and performance art pieces and take part in a dance party with Les the DJ. A full schedule of the day’s activities, as well as everything happening throughout the festival is available at

About By The People

By The People is an international arts and dialogue festival presented by Halcyon. Launched in 2018, the festival brings visual art, performing art and dialogue to all four quadrants of Washington, all completely free and open to the public. Each year a different curator interprets the festival’s founding themes: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. More information is available at

About Hofstra University’s Astronomy Festival on the National Mall

Solstice Saturday is held in association with Hofstra University’s Astronomy Festival on the National Mall. The festival, now in its 10th year, features solar, optical and radio telescope observations; hands-on activities; speakers from scientific and educational organizations; and a chance to mingle with astronomers. The university’s Department of Physics and Astronomy presents an Astronomy Festival on the National Mall on Saturday, June 22 in front of the Smithsonian Castle. Hofstra University is a nationally ranked and recognized private university in Hempstead, New York.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...