Wiki Loves Folklore  (WLF) is an international photographic contest where the photographers can contribute media (photographs, video, and audio) about their local folk culture to Wikimedia Commons under free licenses to be used on Wikipedia and any other space with attribution. The 2021 competition is organized by Open Heritage Foundation, is funded by the Wikimedia Foundation, and supported in-kind by local partners in individual countries. 

Wiki Loves Folklore 2021 is a continuation of Wiki Loves Folklore 2020 with the theme of folk culture. The contest is inspired by the successful 2019 pilot of Wiki Loves Love, which resulted in 6500 freely licensed images of global ceremonies, rituals, and festivals. The 2021 contest will run from 1 Jan – 29 Feb. 

This photography contest is focused on folk culture of different regions, including,  folk dances, folk music, folk activities, folk games, folk cuisine, folk wear, folklore, and tradition, including ballads, folktales, fairy tales, legends, traditional song, and dance, folk plays, games, seasonal events, calendar customs, folk arts, folk religion, mythology, etc. The campaign is targeted at protecting the world’s intangible cultural heritage.

Why Wiki Loves Folklore

The intangible culture includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge, and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts. While fragile, intangible cultural heritage is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalization. An understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities helps with intercultural dialogue and encourages mutual respect for other ways of life. 

One of our primary goals this year will be to teach and train the local organizers from emerging countries to be able to start coordinating the campaign locally to improve the visibility of the campaign in their region with local photo walks and regional partnerships with heritage bodies and better coverage of their traditions with wider participation. 

Since 2019, the project has achieved the following things:

  • Over 26,000 images have been entered by 3196 competitors from up to 59 countries under a free license (CC-BY-SA) ;
  • The 2019 photography contest led to 7121 images from 1700+ participants from over 120 countries. 
  • The 2020 photography contest led to 19052 images, 144 videos, and 13 audio files from over 125 countries by 1496 photographers. 
  • The competition attracts high levels of new contributors to the Wikimedia projects – an average of 80% of participants are new contributors;

You can view the international winning images from all years below and view 2019’s winners here.

One of the most special features of this project is that it is open for participation internationally rather than only in targeted or participating countries the emerging communities that are not able to coordinate or have the insufficient capacity (lack of staff resources, etc.) to organize such campaigns. 

One of our primary goals this year will be to teach and train the local organizers from emerging countries to be able to start coordinating the campaign locally to improve the visibility of the folk culture in their region with local photowalks and regional partnerships with heritage bodies and better coverage of their traditions with wider participation. 

We saw the opportunity to flourish this scope of leadership and wider accessibility to emerging audiences after a pilot from Ghana in WIki Loves Folklore 2020 by Global Open Initiative that did coverage for the campaign and did multiple photo walks with photographers.  

We aim to offer opportunities for communities and photographers all around the world, including the regions that have no or little organized Wikimedia community to organize or coordinate such contests and some of the important tribal and indigenous areas of Asia, Africa, Latin America that have no documentation over the internet. 

In such regions, it may not be possible for individual explorers to visit and document their everyday life and traditions but our campaign allows the local photographers who stumble upon the contest to be able to share and pass the wealth of oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, traditional knowledge and practices, and crafts, thus, not only documenting the important part of their heritage but also releasing content under a free license so it can be reused for research and educational purposes by academia and cultural lovers.