A group of four- and five-year olds are marching down the hallway, waving ribbon sticks and singing an old traditional tune about apples. A dragon is resting on a nearby table while a volunteer sews one of its ears. Six teens are heading upstairs to rehearse with bells tied around their ankles, adding whimsy and celebration to the already joyful scene. And in the parking lot, a group of volunteers are leafing through a songbook choosing songs to share at the evening’s Community Sing.
This is just an ordinary autumn day at Washington Revels, a 35-year old cultural institution dedicated to celebrating cultural traditions through music, dance, storytelling, drama and more.
There’s something for everyone — after-school workshops for PreK-8th grade, opportunities for children and teens to perform on stage, and family activities ranging from Community Sings, Pub Sings, concerts and parades, plus workshops (in music, dance and traditional crafts) – over 120 events each year. It’s a place where intergenerational interactions are a part of daily activities, a place where a family is invited to share in the joys of singing and community, and a place where traditions are honored, shared and created.
And it’s the place where ages-old winter holiday traditions are recreated and reshaped every winter, and then performed at Lisner Auditorium in DC to over 10,000 people over two weekends in December. The Christmas Revels is the organization’s biggest annual event, and one that draws all ages and cultures from well beyond the DC area, and then encourages them to dance in the aisles (literally!) during the show. It’s easy to see why families make this event part of their annual holiday celebration.
All three floors of the Revels’ Silver Spring building are ready for family activities. There’s a bright studio space for workshops and rehearsals, there are shelves and nooks filled with costumes, props, books and CDs, and tucked around the edges you’ll find colorful banners, a couple of dragons, a hobby horse, some jester hats and a Maypole. It’s a place where holidays and special days are celebrated and handed down to future generations, and a place always ready to create the shared joy of community.
Kids and families refer to themselves as “Revelers” and might be heard saying “I’m reveling.” It’s what Washington Revels offers — a chance to revel in music, dance, drama, cultures, traditions and community. The Washington Post calls the DC-area Revelers “…one hundred of Washington’s most literate merrymakers, from kindergartners to senior citizens…” and notes that Washington Revels can create “…a celebration to make even the most incorrigible Grinch grin.”
Join in a Revels program to share in some singing, dancing, celebrating and grinning, and experience the spirit of Reveling! Try the September family-friendly free Community Sing, or enroll your children to be Little Dragons, Hobby Horses or Jesters after school, or consider having your 3rd-5th grader at the Children & Teen Christmas Revels Auditions.
Learn more about it all on the Washington Revels website!