5 Family-Friendly Festivals You Must Visit This Summer

5 Family-Friendly Festivals You Must Visit This Summer

Summertime is all about kicking back, having fun and reconnecting with family. What better place to do that than at an African-American music and culture festival? They are win-win: free, family-friendly fun, hot performances from your favorite artists, and food that’s worth standing in long lines for. To make your planning even easier, here are some of the nation’s hottest Black festivals. Each is worth hopping in the car (or even on a plane) to attend. Want to bask in the summer fun in your own city? Find a local event here and here.

African American Heritage Festival
Baltimore, Maryland

June 2011
This annual weekend-long festival held at M&T Bank Stadium celebrates the culture and history of African-Americans with three days packed with good food, art vendors, health and education exhibits and kid-friendly diversions. But the star of this festival is the live performance lineup, with national and local acts doing their thing on two stages. Last year’s performers included Fantasia, Marsha Ambrosius and Robin Thicke. The best part? It’s free for all during the day; free for kids any time. www.aahf.net

Watts Summer Festival
Los Angeles, California

August 12-14, 2011

Billed as one of the oldest African-American cultural festivals in the country, this annual event is in its 45th year. The mission is to develop cultural pride and awareness and political consciousness in the community. The festivities include art and business exhibits, a children’s village, fashion and custom car shows, community forums, a film festival and R&B and gospel concerts. Head to Ted Watkins Memorial Park for a free weekend of fun.

National Black Arts Festival
Atlanta, Georgia
July 14-17, 2011

This is the premiere annual event for art, culture and music from around the Diaspora. Bring the whole family out for tons of free activities. Highlights include the International Marketplace at Centennial Olympic Park, where 100+ global artists and artisans will showcase their goods, and the main stage concerts, which will feature musicians from around the world. And don’t miss the Children’s Education Village, where kids can participate in an interactive multimedia project created around the core themes explored in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s writings and speeches. Most events are free. www.nbaf.org

Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration
Indianapolis, Indiana

July 7-17, 2011
Now in its 41st year, this annual event has something for everyone: Sports heads can catch the celebrity basketball game and slam dunk contest, the fashion-conscious can drop into the fashion show at the Indiana Convention Center, and the cultural arts pavilion and free outdoor concert at American Legion Mall are a blast for all. Bonus: the Legends of Hip Hop and R&B Concert (starring MC Lyte, Bell Biv DeVoe, Troop, Force MDs and Biz Markie) is not to be missed. Most events are gratis; concert tickets are on sale now. www.indianablackexpo.com

Odunde Street Festival and African Marketplace
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

June 10-12, 2011
Named for the Yoruba word for “Happy New Year,” this annual event celebrates the beginning of another year for people of African descent. It starts with a procession and blessing at the Schuylkill River, and ramps things up with a three-day street festival that attracts thousands of people to enjoy the live music, good company and vendors serving yummy food from around the world. And don’t miss the extensive African Marketplace—it’s a shopper’s paradise. www.odundefestival.org

(Photo:  Bud Smith/National Black Arts Festival/nbaf.com)

Written by Kenrya Rankin


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