The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, is hosting a day of free events–tantalizing storytelling, traditional and contemporary Persian music, backgammon and chess, delicious food, and of course, fun activities for all ages–on Sunday, March 13, from 11 am to 4:30 pm, in Washington DC.

This year’s festivities are accompanied by the special exhibition The Shahnama [Sic], 1000 Years of the Persian Book of Kings. The paintings on view are from some of the finest copies of the Shahnameh to have survived from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. They illustrate significant moments in Ferdosi’s epic, from the heroic deeds of Rostam to the adventures of Eskandar. (Volunteer guides will be in the galleries on March 13 to answer questions and engage in conversation.)

The 2011 Norooz celebration features new activities as well as popular favorites from previous years, including: displays of traditional Haft Sin tables; “fire jumping”; a variety of art activities, from making Norooz cards andsabzeh boxes to decorating eggs, creating masks and puppets of Shahnameh characters, playing games like backgammon, chess, and a text messaging scavenger hunt.

Mamak Khadem will be back to perform a repertoire of traditional Persian music relating to Norooz.

Traditional Persian food, inspired by celebrity chef Najmieh Batmanglij’s Food of Life, and an array of Persian sweets will be available for purchase throughout the day.

The Freer and Sackler Galleries’ Norooz celebration is made possible by a generous gift from Jahangir and Eleanor Amuzegar.

For complete schedules, event locations, and additional details on all Norooz events, please visit

*Free tickets are required for the Mamak Khadem performances. Up to four tickets can be reserved (with service fee) beginning February 28 through Ticketmaster. Unreserved and no-show tickets (two per person; no service fee) are distributed at the Meyer Auditorium beginning one hour before showtime. Click here for more info on admission.

The Freer Gallery of Art, located at 12th Street and Independence Avenue, SW, and the adjacent Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located at 1050 Independence Avenue, SW, are on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Hours are from 10 am to 5:30 pm every day, except Dec. 25, and admission is free. The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines.