The United States is buzzing with a vibrant mass of music festivals that keep tourists and locals on their toes throughout the year. So, if you are scouring the United States in hopes of uncovering the best music festivals for black people, this is the list for you.
1. ESSENCE FESTIVAL
The ESSENCE Festival is an annual festival where people gather for three days of music, entertainment, empowerment and culture in New Orleans, LA. It celebrates many different aspects of the Black community. The ESSENCE Festival started in the 90s and has featured some of the biggest names in entertainment and some of the nation’s most influential speakers, authors and leaders, including Beyoncé, Prince, Aretha Franklin, Barack Obama, Rev. Al Sharpton, Deepak Chopra, Steve Harvey, Ava DuVernay, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Magic Johnson, and many more.
CURLFEST is an annual natural beauty festival that was created by a group of women who collectively form the Curly Girl Collective! Their mission is to create innovative experiences that harness the energy of the natural hair movement and showcase the best brands for modern women of color. The festival is an opportunity for women of color to connect, play games, see live demos, learn about hair products, shop, dance and to see their beauty reflected.
3. BROOKLYN HIP-HOP FESTIVAL
The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival is New York City’s largest Hip-Hop cultural event that showcases the positivity of Hip-Hop culture. It was established in 2005 and strives to celebrate and preserve Hip-Hop’s legacy of promoting artistic progression, community building and social change by bringing together everyone who loves the Hip-Hop culture. The festival consists of a variety of culture-based educational and entertainment events, including music performances, panel lectures, exhibitions, movie screenings and a family-friendly block party.
4. AMERICAN BLACK FILM FESTIVAL
The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is an annual event dedicated to showcasing quality film and television content for us, by us, and about us (people of African descent). The ABFF is committed to the belief that Black artists deserve the same opportunities as their mainstream counterparts and their mission is to introduce and connect talented newcomers to the industry. The festival consists of a wide range of films, television screenings, engaging panels, networking events, activities designed to educate, nurture career development, and inspire attendees, and more. Also, the festival attracts people from around the world, including artists, entertainment executives and upscale film enthusiasts.
If there was an OG of Black artist music festivals, it’d be Afropunk. What started as a safe space for Black alternative folks to express themselves through music and fashion has grown into a full-blown movement. From New York to Paris, Afropunk is a traveling festival, community, and outlet of creative expression for many. The stages of Afropunk feature Black artists across musical genres, from Solange to Lizzo.
Each year, the festival has a different theme. This year in Paris, the theme is Strength In Struggle, with artists like Lauryn Hill and Jill Scott dominating the lineup. The best part about going to Afropunk is witnessing the fashion. Fros are in full bloom, African wax print clothing is abundant, and no one is afraid to accessorize.