Harambee! 8 Cities to check out Kwanzaa celebrations

9 mins read

Started in 1966 by women members of the US Organization to teach children, Kwanzaa has spread into a winter holiday throughout the US African diaspora.

A custom created out of Black nationalist movements of the 1960s, and more specifically created by members of the US Organization, led by Maulana Karenga, the 7-day celebration uses principles of empowerment to bolster race and cultural pride. 

For each day, a principle serves as a daily theme for people of African descent to practice and reflect upon. Instead of English, in Kwanzaa, the principles (umoja, kujichagulia, ujima, ujaama, nia, kuumba, imani), called the Nguzo Saba, are in Ki-Swahili.

Where there is an African American center, most assuredly someone is carrying out Kwanzaa. For starters, here are eight city’s festivals that take place in an array of spaces—from dinners to African dance classes to pop-up marketplaces.


Ujamaafest – A Kwanzaa Celebration

Date: Saturday Dec 28, 2019
Time: 12 AM to 8 PM
Location: Russell Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, 504 Fair Street, Southwest, Atlanta, GA 30313

A Kwanzaa & Cooperative Economics Summit brought to you by The Ke’nekt Cooperative, the Ujamaafest exists to empower the African American community by providing programming centering around cooperative economics & financial literacy which is a principle of Kwanzaa. Along with a rich cultural celebration which includes performances, STEM activities, the Kuumba Small Biz Marketplace & the Economic Heritage Small Business Pitch. The Ujamaafest Cooperative Economics Expo has positioned itself as one of the largest celebrations of Kwanzaa and financial literacy in Atlanta.

Kwanzaa @ THE Y 2019: Taste Of The African Diaspora

Date: Saturday Dec 28, 2019
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Andrew & Walter Young Family YMCA, 2220 Campbellton Rd SW, Atlanta, GA

Children’s Museum of Atlanta

Dates: Daily programs
Time: Varies

  • CMA On-Stage
    • Kwanzaa Reader’s Theater – 11:00 AM & 2:00 PM
    • Kwanzaa Music & Movement – 12:00 PM
    • Kwanzaa Storytime – 1:00 PM
    • Winter Extravaganza Science Show – 4:00 PM
  • Science interactive experiences available all day
    • Science Bar – open 10:00 AM – 3:30 PM
  • Classes scheduled every half hour. Sign up for available class times at studio doors
    • Art Studio – open 11:00 AM – 4:30 PM
    • Build It Lab – open 11:00 AM – 4:30 PM

Location: Children’s Museum of Atlanta, 275 Centennial Olympic Park Drive NW

Celebrate Kwanzaa with Children’s Museum of Atlanta! Learn about the holiday through festive stories, songs, and activities all day long. Join our Imaginators on stage for a special interactive Kwanzaa Reader’s Theater, as well as Music & Movement and Storytime programs. We’ll also be celebrating with a Kwanzaa craft in the Art Studio and a gift-making workshop in the Built It Lab.

Kwanzaa at the Shrine

Date: December 27, 2019
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Shrine of the Black Madonna, 946 Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard, Atlanta, GA 30310

See you in the West End for a night of dance, creativity, self-determination, food and flowship with special guest speaker, Olu of Earthgang!

Yoga Pop Up & Shop for Kwanzaa

Date: December 29, 2019
Time: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: Code Ninjas, 4691 South Atlanta Road Southeast, Suite 240, Atlanta, GA 30339

Come Celebrate Kwanzaa with us as we embody the 4th principle of Kwanzaa which is Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics. Come enjoy a variety of vendors, yoga, food and celebration!! As we embody Ujamaa and bring together business owners to buy, barter, network and Celebrate each other and our success!!!! Come meet like minded people on the grind for generational wealth.

Kwanzaa Umoja Karamu Fiesta

Date: Friday, December 27
Time: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: The Beloved Community Church Of Atlanta, 1113 Ira St SW, Atlanta, GA

Join The Beloved Community Church of Atlanta for An African Harambee with, dancing, music, poetry and giveaways.

Free African Dance Class

Date: Tuesday, Dec 31
Time: 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: Cap of Studio, 495 Moreland Ave SE, Atlanta, GA

Join Afrikan Djeli Cultural Institute and the Atlanta African Dance & Drum Festival for their annual Free Kwanzaa Dance Class.

Baltimore Metropolitan

Howard County’s 5th Annual Kwanzaa Celebration

Date: Thursday, December 26
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: George Howard Building, 430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City

Reginald C. Lewis Museum Kwanzaa Celebration

Date: Saturday, December 28
Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Reginald F. Lewis African American Museum, 830 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore

Sankofa African Children’s Museum’s Kwanzaa Celebration

Date: Friday, December 27
Time: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Location: 4330 Pimlico Road in Baltimore

Tubman City Kwanzaa Extravaganza

Date: December 28
Time: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Location: Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, 430 East Belvedere Avenue, Baltimore

Kwanzaa Celebration & Marketplace

Date: Friday, December 27
Time: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: Langston Hughes Community, Business & Resource Center, 5011 Arbutus Avenue, Baltimore

A Kwanzaa celebration and marketplace for all ages. Come out and connect with the village it doesn’t matter if you are just learning about Kwanzaa or have been celebrating it for many years. Dr Oya Ma’at will expound on Kwanzaa and the importance of celebrating our own holidays. We will also have family friendly activities for all ages including a drum circle, Kwanzaa education, musical performance, kids activity center with free face painting, kid African fashion show, a Dj and black owned business marketplace. This community event is free to the public and all are welcome.


Kwanzaa Celebration

Date: December 28
Time: 1 – 5pm
Location: South Side Community Arts Center, 3831 South Michigan, Chicago

Kwanzaa Celebration Harambee na NGUZO SABA 2019

Date: Friday, December 27
Time: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: Chicago State University Jacoby Dickens Center, 9501 South King Drive, Chicago

Afriware Books

Date: Saturday, December 28
Time: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: Eisenhower Tower, 1701 S. 1st Ave, Suite 503, Maywood IL


NBUF Kujichagulia Kwanzaa Celebration 2019 at Shrine of the Black Madonna Cultural Center 

Date: Friday, December 27
Time: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: Shrine of the Black Madonna, 5309 Martin Luther King Boulevard

Join the Houston Chapter of the National Black United Front (NBUF) in Southeast Houston and celebrate Kwanzaa at the Kujichagulia Celebration 2019. Browse an African market from 5pm to 9pm, with a drum call at 6:30pm, and the Kwanzaa Celebration and Ritual at 7pm. Free event.

Kwanzaa Celebration at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church

Date: Friday, December 27
Time: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Location: Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, 2025 W 11th Street

Join the Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church in the Heights for singing, dancing, drumming, stories and more to celebrate Kwanzaa. Bring a book that is suitable for children from Pre-K to 12th grade that tells the stories of Africa, the diaspora of Africans, or African Americans and they will donate it to YES Prep.

Kuumba at MATCH 

Date: New Year’s Eve, Tuesday, December 31
Time: 5 p.m.
Location: Midtown Arts & Theater Center, 3400 Main Street

Dance Afrikana presents Kuumba, a celebration of African dance styles and stories at MATCH in Midtown. “Kuumba” is a Kiswahili word meaning “creativity,” which is one of the seven principles celebrated during Kwanzaa. Tickets are $15. 5pm.

Los Angeles

Kwanzaa: Kings of Legacy

Date: Sunday, December 29th
Time: 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM PST
Location: KRST Unity Center, 7825 Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90047

The Community comes together during this season of KWANZAA to celebrate the Afrikan man. The ancestors have made possible for such extraordinary men to have historically impacted the lives of especially Afrikan people, worldwide. This event features four powerhouses whose international contributions have set the path to black excellence: Thomas ‘TJ’ Loftin, author of book, “Monetizing Gentrification;” Leo Sullivan, legendary cartoonist; Dr. Joseph N. Jackson, inventor and serial entrepreneur; Isaiah Cooper, teen pilot who flew solo across the US at 16-years-old in 2017.

Kwanzaa at A.C. Bilbrew Library

Date: Saturday, December 28
Time: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: 150 E El Segundo Boulevard, Los Angeles, California

Kwanzaa Marketplace and Bazaar, celebrating Ujamaa/Cooperative Economics, and featuring vendors, exhibitors, cultural foods, music, art activities, book sales and more. Co-sponsored by LA South Chamber of Commerce and the Friends of AC Bilbrew and Woodcrest Libraries.

The African American Resource Center (AARC) was established as a special service of the County of Los Angeles Public Library in 1978 to serve the informational and educational needs of African Americans and the larger population by supporting research and study on social, historical and cultural aspects unique to the African American experience. Additionally, the Center serves as an information and referral agency to other libraries, government agencies and the general public. It is an important link in the survival and preservation of the heritage of African Americans. The African American Resource Center provides many services and activities.

KWANZAA! 2019 Lula Washington Dance Theater

Date: Friday, December 27 to Sunday, December 29
Time: Varies
Location: Lula Washington’s dance studio, 3773 Crenshaw Boulevard

Lula Washington Dance Theatre presents its 2019 Kwanzaa Festival – three days of high velocity dancing and drumming, mixing African Dance, Modern dance, cultural dance forms and ballet in unforgettable ways. The celebration features a blending of Lula Washington’s youth dancers and the professional members of her world famous international touring company. This is a cultural holiday celebration, not a religious holiday observance. Lula’s program illuminates the seven principals of Kwanzaa, all of which advocate for the development of families; children; communities; and individual well being. This is a family friendly performance for adults and children alike. The youth dancers often steal the show. Parking is free in the LWDT parking lot. Reviewers have called this one of the best holiday shows they have ever seen in Los Angeles. Come see for yourself.

Kwanzaa Joy Celebration

Date: Sun, December 29, 2019
Time: 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM PST
Location: The Farm at Pomona Fairplex, 2118 North White Avenue, Pomona, CA 91768

This one-day celebration is based on the seven fundamental principles of Kwanzaa, known as the Nguzo Saba which promotes unity within the family and community, self awareness, faith and responsibility to the future of our people and our culture.
The Kwanzaa Joy Celebration will feature reflection on each of the Seven Principles, artistic performances in music, dance and spoken word, cultural food tasting, handcrafted gifts, and a local artisan marketplace. All families and all ages are invited, and encouraged to attend. This event is both an opportunity to experience the African culture as well as raise awareness and educational diversity. Along with tickets sales, we are asking for donations of culturally and historically relevant books on our culture to be donated to the local public schools to support equity in our children’s educational experience.

Newark, New Jersey

NJ PAC Kwanza Festival & Marketplace

Dates and times: Sat, Dec 21 9AM–1PM | Fri, Dec 20 @ 6–10PM
Sat, Dec 21 | @ 9AM–5PM
Location: New Jersey Performing Arts Center , 1 Center Street, Newark, New Jersey 07101.

NJPAC’s annual festival features West African dance & drums, Kwanzaa ceremony & storytelling, arts & crafts, live performances and more! Kwanzaa Marketplace is NJPAC’s most popular community marketplace offers more options than ever! Custom and cultural clothing, handcrafted jewelry, original designer hats, bath & body products, candles, books, art and more! It’s one-stop shopping for all your holiday gift-giving needs.

New York

Kwanzaa Umoja Film Festival

Date: Saturday, Dec 27
Time: 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Join us for the Opening Night kickoff festivity for the 2019 Kwanzaa Film Festival Celebration! The opening nights event will feature celebrities who have given back to the community. THE TALENTED SEVEN ONE FOR EACH PRINCIPLE. We will have drink specials in the first hour, Art and entertainment, Icebreakers, Step and Repeat and so much more. This is a VIP affair so you must RSVP in order to have a complimentary admission. Opening night party will fill up fast so don’t wait to book your free tickets until it’s too late.

Feast & Flow: Pop Up Kwanzaa Market

Date: December 28
Time: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Location: Aspire 2 Dance, 1195 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn
Chakula Catering NYC is bringing the next Feast & Flow event as a holiday pop-up! Featuring natural/holistic vendors and practitioners. There will also be both yoga with Ngone Mbaye , meditation & birth chart readings with Diamond Eterniti, and house dance with Marmara. And, of course, a deliciously healthy menu provided by Chakula Catering NYC. All family friendly! Free face painting for kids!

The Black Pool of Genius Kwanzaa BK Fest

Date: Saturday, Dec 28, 2019
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249

Kwanzaa Fest BK is a safe space for people of color of all ages to celebrate the rich history and culture of African people, showcasing world-class musicians, filmmakers, and artisans in Brooklyn for the last five years.

Celebrate Kwanzaa with Asase Yaa and Brooklyn Children’s Museum

Date: Daily
Time: Varies
Location: Brooklyn Children’s Museum

Join Brooklyn Children’s Museum and Brooklyn-based Asase Yaa Cultural Arts Foundation as they mark their 12th annual Kwanzaa celebration together at the largest family Kwanzaa event in New York City! Taking place for over five days with programs that highlight the culture, art, dancing, and music, of this African-American holiday. This year, visitors are invited to explore Kwanzaa’s seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, faith, and creativity. Learn about the history and significance of Kwanzaa; play the djembe drum; create Zawadi gifts for your family and others; hear African folktales; and help paint a mural that explores each of Kwanzaa’s principles with painter ZuluSoul!


December 26

Host: Bridge the Gap Coalition
Time: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: 701 N Livingston St. Orlando, FL 32805
Indoor gymnasium

December 27

Host: Shule Adetunde, Afrikan Kulcha School
Time: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: Denton Johnson Center, Eatonville, FL

December 28

Host: Three Masks, Inc
Time: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Location:1053 W. Colonial Dr. Orlando, FL 32805
Host: Young Men of Purpose Kwanzaa Celebration
Time: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Location: Rosemont Community Center, 4872 Rose Bay Drive

December 29

Host: Hannibal Square Heritage Center
Time: TBA, See updates to event
Location: 642 W. New England Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

December 30

Host: Midway Community Center
Time: TBA, See updates to event
Location: 2251 Jitway Ave, Sanford, FL 32771

December 31

Host: Bronze Kingdom
Time: TBA
Location: TBA, See updates to event.

January 1

Host: Kale Cafe
Time: 9 a.m. meditation, followed by breakfast at Kale Cafe
Location: Beach side meditation at Daytona Beach
Location 2: 116 N Beach St, Daytona Beach, FL 32114


Annual Kwanzaa Gathering

Date: Friday, December 27
Time: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Location: Kuumba Family Institute, 6801 N. 16th Street

VinChelle’s Kwanzaa Celebration

Date: Friday, December 27
Time: 9 p.m.
Location: Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar, 254 S. 12th Street

Philadelphia Kwanzaa Celebration 2019

Date: December 28
Time: 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Location: Shoemaker Campus Charter School, 5301 Media Street

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