Happy Independence Day and a weekend full of patriotic music!

While there aren't a ton of concerts to choose from as many clubs and larger venues take some well-deserved time off, there are several public concerts on or around the Fourth of July.

There's no better place to be on Independence Day than the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This year's event marks the 200th anniversary of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Scheduled artists for the Capitol Fourth Celebration include the National Symphony Orchestra, Academy Award-winning composer John Williams debuting his new arrangement of the national anthem augmented by The Joint Armed Forces Chorus, the Choral Arts Society of Washington and the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets.

Also, Jack Everly will conduct the NSO, and Tom Bergeron will host the festivities. This free Fourth of July concert will be held on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building. No tickets are required. You can enter the West Lawn area starting at 3 p.m. with the concert starting at 8 p.m. Take the Metro to Capitol South or Smithsonian stops.

Also in Washington this weekend, there are a couple of free shows, including the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall. The festival is an international exposition of living cultural heritage that takes place for two weeks every summer, overlapping the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The Folklife Festival has brought more than 23,000 musicians, artists, performers, craftspeople, workers, cooks, storytellers and others to our nation's capital to demonstrate the skills, knowledge and aesthetics that embody the creative vitality of community-based traditions.

Usually divided into programs featuring a nation, region, state or theme, the fest has featured exemplary tradition-bearers from more than 90 countries, every region of the United States, scores of ethnic communities, more than 100 American Indian groups and some 70 different occupations.

The festival normally includes daily and evening programs of music, song, dance, celebratory performances, crafts and cooking demonstrations, storytelling, illustrations of workers' culture and narrative sessions for discussing cultural issues.

It's an exercise in cultural democracy, in which cultural practitioners speak for themselves, with each other and to the public.

The fest encourages visitors to participate - to learn, sing, dance, eat traditional foods and converse with people featured in the festival program. Tradition-bearers and visitors can connect with and learn from one another and, in a respectful way, begin to understand cultural differences and similarities.

This year the festival focuses on China and Kenya.

"China: Tradition and the Art of Living" highlights "reunion" and "balance," traditional principles that are of greater value than ever in China. A traditional Chinese perspective posits that all things - everything from one's health to a community's welfare - depends on a balance of internal and external forces.

China is the world's most populous country and second-biggest economy. The largest rural-to-urban migration in human history is underway as people move from the countryside to seek work in China's expanding cities.

Kenya is a country of deeply rooted traditions and a vibrant cultural crossroads. Some of the oldest artifacts of human communities have been discovered in Kenya, making the East African country truly a cradle of humanity.

Kenya's diverse landscapes - stretching from snow-capped mountains to the Great Rift Valley, from deserts to lakes, vast savannahs, lush forests and a sparkling coast - are reflected in the rich variety of the Kenyan people and their traditions.

Occurring just after the 50th anniversary of Kenya's independence from the British Empire, the "Kenya: Mambo Poa" program will present the ways in which the people of Kenya are balancing their cultural and natural heritage with the challenges and opportunities for change in the 21st century.

The 48th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival continues from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today through Sunday, with special events most evenings. No tickets are required (except for the evening programs). More information is available at http://www.festival.si.edu.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform Star-Spangled Spectacular tonight and Friday (8 p.m.) at Oregon Ridge Park near Cockeysville (the park opens at 5 p.m). The BSO will perform Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" and Sousa's "Stars and Stripes," followed by a grand fireworks display.