The 2011 Festival featured three "living exhibitions" of cultures from the United States and many countries around the world. In collaboration with Colombia’s Ministry of Culture and several non-governmental organizations, a bi-national research and curatorial team explored the confluence of nature and culture in six major regional ecosystems and the three largest cities - Bogotá, Cali, and Medellín. More than one hundred participants from these regions brought this research to life on the National Mall. They represented the diverse faces of Colombian culture - some of which might have been unfamiliar even to Colombians themselves.
For the Rhythm and Blues program, the Festival joined with the National Museum of African American History and Culture to recount the development of this uniquely American music. The performances and stories of veteran artists revealed how this music has been shaped by the reordering of race relations after World War II, the civil rights movement, and the interplay between the commercial industry and the artists. The participation of emerging artists demonstrated how the music continues to transform and stay vital. The third program, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps, featured returned Peace Corps volunteers and host country nationals from fifteen of the 139 countries in which the Peace Corps has served. By demonstrating the role of culture in furthering social development, the program highlighted one of the Peace Corps’ primary goals, "Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans."
In the 2011 Festival, more than three hundred people who are prime bearers of their unique cultural traditions offered Festival visitors abundant opportunities to experience - person-to-person - craftsmanship, occupational skills, musical styles, dance, and culinary traditions that they might not otherwise encounter. In learning of their accomplishments, audience members could expand their own sense of "the art of the possible"; learn about themselves; and foster an optimism based in curiosity and empathy.
The 2011 Festival took place for two five-day weeks (June 30-July 4 and July 7-11) between Madison Drive and Jefferson Drive and between 9th Street and 14th Street, south of the National Museum of American History and the National Museum of Natural History. It featured three programs and special events including the Rinzler Concert. The 2011 Program Book included participant lists for each program; keynote essays provided background on each of the programs; a separate brochure provided a site plan and daily schedules.