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Folger Shakespeare Library Announces a Diverse Line-Up of Free Summer Programming and Events

Press release: June 27, 2024 — Washington, DC

The Folger Shakespeare Library is excited to announce its slate of free summer programming for the months of July and August, 2024. From a Cuban salsa night to Arab poetry and music, from an inclusive, neurodivergent-friendly dance class for families to the return of the Folger Book Fair, there is an enticing event for everyone. After a four-year renovation, the Folger has added a new 12,000 square-foot pavilion with two new exhibition halls featuring rare items from the Folger’s extensive collections, lush new garden spaces, and reoriented the Great Hall as a gathering space in anticipation of the forthcoming café Quill & Crumb. This slate of summer programming welcomes both old friends and new visitors to enjoy all the Folger has to offer.

“This summer, we’re hosting some community-centered events for both families and business professionals with Folger Family Takeovers and Folger Fridays,” shares Katherine Harroff, Director of Engagement at the Folger. “We see these events as an opportunity to reintroduce ourselves to past Folger audiences and pave the way for new audiences by presenting and celebrating a diverse collection of local artists. We’ll be exploring a large variety of offerings such as music and dance and workshops that will ensure there is something for everyone at the Folger this summer. We can’t wait to see you there!”

On Folger Fridays, the Folger offers free evening events from 5:30–7:30pm with local artists and performers on the front lawn of the Folger plinth. After the event, guests are invited to visit the Folger’s exhibition halls and other public spaces in the building, which are open until 9pm on Fridays. Timed-entry passes are recommended. In case of rain or extreme heat, events will move indoors to the Theatre.

Grammy-nominated musician, hip-hop emcee, and spoken word artist Kokayi kicks off Folger Fridays on July 12. Kokayi, the first emcee to be granted a Guggenheim fellowship for music composition, will perform hip hop and poetry with fellow musicians.

On July 26, Cuban dance company DC Casineros will demonstrate various Cuban popular and social dance styles and offer free dance lessons. That same evening, Grammy Award-winning salsa, big band, and swing bandleader Gerardo Contino will perform with his band, Gerardo Contino y Los Habaneros.

Be Steadwell, a queer pop singer-songwriter and filmmaker, and Pretty Boi Drag, an award-winning collective of BIPOC drag kings, will host the festivities for an evening of queer celebration on August 9.

Folger Fridays concludes its seasonal line-up on August 23, with Arab American composer, vocalist, and oud player Laith Alattar and Band performing Arab poetry and music.

During Folger Fridays, the Folger Shakespeare Library’s newly renovated and reopened exhibition halls are open to the public. The Shakespeare Exhibition Hall features the largest collection of Shakespeare’s First Folios (82 in all) in one space, exhibitions with rare materials related to how artists and readers have responded to Shakespeare’s works throughout time. The Stuart and Mimi Rose Rare Book and Manuscript Exhibition Hall hosts the stunning special exhibition Imprints in Time. Guests are invited to bring a picnic to enjoy on the Folger’s front lawn on the plinth and explore the Folger’s new gardens; beverages will be available for purchase.

Every other Saturday morning from 9–11am is all about family fun, and the Folger is opening early specifically for families with consideration for their busy summer schedules. This summer, Folger Family Takeovers include hands-on activities, dance, poetry, and lots of energy in the Great Hall and Theatre. On July 6, ZamDance will lead a dance fitness program for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their caretakers, family, and friends that is inclusive for all abilities in the Great Hall. The team from Callaloo Kids will put on a fun puppet performance about diversity and social awareness on July 20. The Folger hosts a morning of crafts, poetry, and music on August 3. One of the top five most produced artists for Theatre for Young Audiences, Paige Hernandez, will perform from her original work and lead a Havana pop dance workshop on August 17.

Folger Family Takeovers occur before the Folger’s regular opening hours; please check in at the Welcome Desk. After the program, please stay and enjoy the Folger’s exhibition halls. Timed-entry passes are recommended.

On August 24, the Folger invites families to become part of a living sonnet through two special workshops geared for poets aged 5–7 (at 11:30am) and 8–14 (at 1pm). Together, families will learn about rhyme, rhythm, and imagery through movement and performance. Free registration opens in July.

After last summer’s popular event at East City Bookshop, the Folger Book Fair is back in session on Saturday, July 14, 11am–3pm in the Folger’s West Lobby and new Folger Shop. The Folger Book Fair will highlight programs from the Folger’s upcoming season. A curated book selection inspired by Folger Theatre, Poetry, and Book Club programs will be available for browsing and purchasing. Local independent bookstores—including East City Bookshop, People’s Book, Old Town Books, and Solid State Books—will be sharing promotional materials.

Folger Poetry Manager Teri Cross Davis will read poems throughout the afternoon from our upcoming poetry season and Folger staff will be on hand to answer questions about upcoming events. There will be activities for younger readers including story time from Ello, a children’s reading app for kindergarten to 3rd grade readers. There will also be literary giveaways throughout the day.

Folger Book Club returns to its virtual programming on August 1, at 6:30pm (ET), to discuss Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton. A “Best Book of the Year” selection of The New York Times Book Review, NPR, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Time, Financial Times, Slate, The Chicago Public Library, Kirkus, The Telegraph, and more, Birnam Wood is a gripping psychological thriller, inspired by the themes of Shakespeare’s Macbeth set in New Zealand’s South Island. The evening will start with a brief presentation from Todd Andrew Borlick, who was featured in the Shakespeare Unlimited episode, “Shakespeare and the Environment.” Sessions take place over Zoom. Free registration is required and will open on July 9, with early access for Folger Members. Politics and Prose is the local independent bookstore partner for this virtual Book Club selection. The calendar for Folger Book Club’s fall season is available here:

Though not a free event, the Folger’s popular Mixology series of trivia and early modern drink recipes is finally returning home to the Folger this summer. Shakespeare for Swifties, on August 15 from 6–9pm, in the Great Hall brings together the Bard and Taylor Swift for an evening of fun. Participants can make friendship bracelets while enjoying Swift-inspired cocktails and her greatest hits, or create a trivia team of up to six players to win prizes. All participants can play solo, make new friends, or come as a team. Registration opens on July 25 for $25 per guest.

For the full roster of summer programming, please visit:


Neurodivergent/All Abilities Welcome Dance Class Featuring ZamDance
July 6, 2024 at 9–11am
Free | Great Hall

Show us your moves as we welcome ZamDance to the Great Hall! ZamDance is a dance fitness program for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  The purpose of ZamDance is to empower individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities by creating a safe and supportive space where they can explore the art of dance and enhance their physical and emotional well-being.

Hip-Hop And Spoken Word with Kokayi and Friends
July 12, 2024 at 5:30–7:30pm
Free | Folger Front Lawn

Join us for the first Folger Friday of the summer as we welcome acclaimed hip-hop and spoken word artist Kokayi for an evening of music and poetry.

Folger Book Fair 2024
July 14, 2024 from 11am–3pm
Free | West Lobby

School may be out, but nostalgia is always in session and there’s nothing we miss more than when the Book Fair would roll into town. Which is why we’re bringing it back!

Join us for our second Folger Book Fair, highlighting programs from the Folger’s upcoming season. Shop a curated book selection inspired by Folger Theatre, Poetry, and Book Club programs while learning more about what we have planned.

Teri Cross Davis (Folger Poetry Manager) will be reading poems throughout the afternoon from our upcoming poetry season and Folger staff will be on hand to answer questions about upcoming events.

Cultural Literacy Through Puppets Featuring Callaloo Kids
July 20, 2024 at 9–11am
Free | Great Hall and the Theatre

Spend your morning with the team from Callaloo Kids for an introduction for young audiences to diverse cultural narratives through the use of puppetry.

Cuban Salsa Night featuring Gerardo Contino y Los Habaneros & DC Casineros
July 26, 2024 at 5:30–7:30pm
Free | Folger Front Lawn

Celebrate the unique dance styles of Cuba with a live band! DC Casineros will offer dance lessons and demonstrations from 5:30–6:30pm followed by a performance by the Gerardo Contino Band.

Folger Book Club: Birnam Wood
August 1, 2024 at 6:30pm (ET)
Free | Virtual

Folger Book Club is taking a summer break but will return on August 1 at 6:30pm (ET) to discuss Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton. Free registration is required and will open on July 9, with early access for members.

Youth Poetry Workshop
August 3, 2024 at 9–11am
Free | Great Hall and the Theatre

Join us for a morning of crafts, poetry, and music.

Queer Culture Night featuring Be Steadwell and Pretty Boi Drag
August 9, 2024 at 5:30–7:30pm
Free | Folger Front Lawn

Join us for an evening of queer celebration with Be Steadwell and Pretty Boi Drag.

Mixology presents: Shakespeare for Swifties
August 15, 2024 from 6–9pm
$25 | Great Hall
Registration opens in July. 

Is Taylor Swift the Shakespeare of our time? This “cruel summer,” join the Folger Institute as we explore the poetry, literary devices, and early modern allusions of Swift’s discography. Whether you prefer All’s Well That Ends Well or All Too Well,” all are welcome to join us for a fun night of cocktails, trivia, and prizes. Don your Era’s themed outfit—doors open at 6pm for themed cocktail sipping and friendship bracelet making, and trivia begins at 7pm. Are you ready for it?

Dance Theatre Workshop with Havana Pop
August 17, 2024 at 9–11am
Free | Great Hall and the Theatre

In this hip-hop theatre arts experience, Paige Hernandez presents excerpts from her original work based on her experience as a performer with African American and Latina roots. Her program motivates us to be creative and unique, using our heritage and family values as inspiration. Learn the basics of hip hop, salsa, and partner dance with adults and children together!

Arab Music and Poetry Night featuring Laith Alattar and Band
August 23, 2024 at 5:30–7:30pm
Free  | Folger Front Lawn

Join us for our last summer Folger Friday with an evening celebrating Arab music and poetry, featuring Laith Alattar and Band.

Lines So Richly Spun Family Workshop
August 24, 2024 at 11:30am and 1pm
Free | Learning Lab
Registration opens in July. 

Become part of a living sonnet while learning about rhyme, rhythm, and imagery. The 11:30am workshop is recommended for children ages 5-7. The 1pm workshop is recommended for children ages 8-14. Be inspired by Shakespeare’s language about a summer day and put a dramatic spin on the words that create the famous iambic pentameter.

About Folger Shakespeare Library:

The Folger Shakespeare Library makes Shakespeare’s stories and the world in which he lived accessible. Anchored by the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger is a place where curiosity and creativity are embraced, and conversation is always encouraged. Visitors to the Folger can choose how they want to experience the arts and humanities, from interactive exhibitions to captivating performances, and from path-breaking research to transformative educational programming. The Folger welcomes everyone to connect in their own way—from communities throughout Washington, DC, to communities across the globe.

Following a multiyear building renovation, the Folger’s historic Capitol Hill home reopened to the public on June 21, 2024. Learn more at

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