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10 annual festivals that celebrate Black history and culture

10 annual festivals that celebrate Black history and culture
Posted at 9:15 AM, Feb 17, 2023

Attending festivals celebrating Black history and culture throughout the year is a powerful way to honor Black Americans’ shared legacy and experience. Festivals are an important reminder that acknowledging and celebrating this unique heritage is ongoing, not confined to one month each year. Participation in these events provides an opportunity to build connections, strengthen bonds and expand cultural understandings.

By attending festivals that celebrate Black history and culture, we can gain a better understanding of our nation’s past and help bring about positive social change. Learn about annual festivals that occur throughout the year around the United States.

January: Zora! Festival in Eatonville, Florida

The Zora! Festival is an annual event that celebrates the life and works of author, anthropologist and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston. The event takes place in Eatonville, Florida, a town founded by African Americans in 1887. It is now one of the oldest incorporated African American towns in the United States.

The festival features art shows, theatrical performances, dance parties and educational activities that honor Hurston’s legacy. In addition, attendees can visit the Outdoor Festival of the Arts to find unique handmade items perfect for the home, garden and gift-giving. The festival is an intergenerational event that celebrates Black culture and heritage while promoting education about Hurston’s work.

January: Tampa Black Heritage Festival in Florida

The Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival is an annual 10-day cultural event celebrating the African American experience in Tampa, Florida. Held every January starting the weekend before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and ending the weekend after, it features a variety of activities, including speakers, musicians, dancers and a two-day music fest. The festival also offers educational and enrichment activities for all ages.

The purpose of the Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival is to promote awareness and appreciation of African American culture and heritage. It provides an opportunity for people from all backgrounds to come together to celebrate their shared history and culture. The festival also serves as a platform for local artists to showcase their work and share their stories with the community.

February: FAMU Harambee Festival in Tallahassee, Florida

The FAMU Harambee Festival is an annual event that celebrates the culture and diversity of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). Held in Tallahassee’s Cascades Park, this festival brings together Black artists, singers, dancers and storytellers to showcase their crafts. In addition, attendees can enjoy live performances, vendors from across the region, cultural art, workshops, fashion shows and more. The event also features food and fun activities for all ages.

The FAMU Harambee Festival is a great way to unite the community and celebrate the university’s rich history and culture. It’s an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to come together in a safe environment to learn about different cultures and experiences. This year, it takes place on Feb. 25.

March: The Black Heritage Festival Of Louisiana

The Black Heritage Festival of Louisiana is an annual event celebrating Black culture and heritage. Held in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the festival offers a variety of activities and events for all ages. From a formal gala and dinner to performances and a soul food cook-off, there’s something for everyone at this vibrant celebration. One highlight of the festival is the Saturday parade; the procession features local businesses and supportive organizations, plus marching bands and floats, showcasing excellence within the local community.

The Black Heritage Festival of Louisiana is designed to open the door to education, exposure and understanding. Through performances, events and workshops, this festival gives the general public an invaluable opportunity to learn more about Black history and traditions. In 2023, the festival place March 9-12, with main attractions happening Saturday, March 11.

April: Black Food Truck Festival of Charleston, South Carolina

The Black Food Truck Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, is a family-oriented event touted as the “ultimate family reunion” celebrating the best food trucks in the region. From delicious cuisine to unique experiences, this festival has something for everyone.

You’ll find more than 40 vendors featuring a variety of cuisines, including African American soul food, West African dishes and bakery desserts. In addition, the festival includes performances by local bands and musicians so you can take in the culture and positive vibes of the day. Visit the festival, now in its second year, on April 22-23.

June: American Black Film Festival in Miami, Florida

The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is an annual event that celebrates the talent of Black creatives in the film and television industry. Founded in 1997, ABFF has become one of the most significant events for African-American filmmakers, actors and content creators. The festival showcases films and television content by and about people of Black creators.

ABFF also offers a variety of workshops and panels that provide valuable insight into the industry from experienced professionals. In addition, the festival offers networking opportunities with other filmmakers, producers, directors, writers, actors and executives in attendance. It is an important event that helps to empower Black artists while celebrating diversity in film and television content. It takes place this year on June 14-18 in Miami Beach.

June: Odunde Festival in Philadelphia

The Odunde Festival is one of the country’s most prominent African American street festivals. Held annually in Philadelphia on the second Sunday in June, the festival attracts up to 500,000 people from all over the world each year. The event celebrates African and African-American culture with a variety of activities, including live music, food vendors, artisans and more.

The festival began in 1975 as a celebration of the Yoruba New Year. Since then, it has grown into an annual event that encompasses 15 city blocks. At the Odunde Festival, you can find all kinds of merchandise, from traditional African clothing to handmade jewelry and artwork. There are also many educational opportunities, such as workshops on Black history and culture, as well as performances by local artists. This year’s event is on June 11.

July: Essence Festival of Culture in New Orleans

The Essence Festival of Culture is an annual celebration of Black culture, music, fashion and food that takes place each Fourth of July weekend. It began as a “party with a purpose” in 1995, celebrating the 25th anniversary of Essence magazine, and has since evolved. Today, it aims at uplifting and celebrating Black women and attracts half a million attendees. The festival takes place in New Orleans and features live performances, celebrity appearances, panel discussions, art installations and more.

Attendees can enjoy delicious food, shop for unique items from local vendors, and participate in activities such as yoga classes or dance workshops. The festival says it’s designed to celebrate the African diaspora’s beauty and strength. Tickets are already available for this year’s festival, from June 29-July 3 at Caesars Superdome. Headliners in 2023 include Beyonce, Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar, with additional sets from Cardi B., Childish Gambino and others.

September: African American Day Parade in New York

The African American Day Parade in Harlem is an annual event celebrating Black culture, heritage and legacy. Held every September, the parade typically features participants from at least 12 states. It is one of the largest African American parades in the U.S. and has been running since 1969.

The parade features floats, marching bands, dance groups and more. In addition, a variety of vendors sell food and merchandise along the route. Attendees can expect to see celebrities such as actors, singers, athletes, politicians and more. The African American Day Parade in Harlem is a event that brings together people from all walks of life to celebrate Black culture and history in a positive way. It takes place in 2023 on Sept. 17 along Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard.

October: National Black Book Festival in Houston

The National Black Book Festival (NBBF) is an annual event that celebrates African American authors, publishers, book clubs and readers. Held in Houston, the NBBF brings together a diverse group of people from all over the country to celebrate literature and culture. At the festival, attendees can browse hundreds of books from various authors and publishers.

They can also attend panels and workshops where authors discuss their work and share their stories. Additionally, activities for children abound — including story time and a Children’s Festival featuring the Black Authors Matter Children’s Book Award Winners. A food court, opening reception and several networking breakfasts also take place. The 16th edition of the annual event runs Oct. 26-28.

This story originally appeared on Simplemost. Check out Simplemost for additional stories.