If you’re looking for something to check out this weekend that meets the three “F’s” (fun, family friendly, and free) than look no further. The 32nd Annual Living Traditions Festival kicks off TODAY (May 19th) and runs through May 21st at Washington Square (Salt Lake City and County Building) and Library Square.

2014 Living Traditions Festival

The free (yes free) three-day cultural festival offers up dance, music, painting, sculpture, and (we must not neglect mentioning) culinary arts. It is true that “variety is the spice of life” is a cliché, but, it’s a cliché that is true and the Living Traditions Festival really shows off the rich and diverse cultures and art forms that make Salt Lake City the great place that it is.

This year’s special guest artist is the prolific (to say the least) Syrian folk-pop wedding artist Omar Souleyman. He’s recorded more than 500 albums (doing virtual double take). Souleyman has collaborated with artists you may be familiar with like The Black Lips, Caribou, Four Tet and Modeselektor. Souleyman and his band specialize in a high energy version of the Syrian folk music known as dabke, which is traditionally performed during line dances at weddings. Most of his albums, in fact, have been recorded live at weddings. Souleyman has a new album being released this month and will be performing on Friday, May 21, at 9:00 p.m. on the North Stage. (Mayor Biskupski will be introducing him to the stage, so another perk of being there.)

Omar Souleyman Gothenburg

In addition to Souleyman, the Living Traditions Festival will feature:

  • More than 80 performances
  • Craft area to include more than 30 master craftspeople teaching the history, process, and importance of their crafts
  • Crafts for sale
  • Kids area packed with fun and educational activities
  • Food Market featuring 19 local, non-profit and community organizations

Not only will the food market offer interesting and delicious dishes from all parts of the world, proceeds will help support year-round cultural programming. We really cannot overstate what a tremendous opportunity this is for everyone to come Downtown and enjoy some fantastic arts, crafts, culture, music, and food.

For more information on the Living Traditions Festival, click here or Omar Souleyman, click here.

*Photos by David Vogel Photography and Photo Collective Studios.

*Blog post contributed by William Wright.

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