Photo credit: International African Arts

The International African Arts Festival (IAAF), Brooklyn’s beloved celebration of African culture and family, returns from Thursday, July 4 through Sunday, July 7.

Now in its 48th year, the festival brings four days of music, dance and spoken word to Fort Greene’s Commodore Barry Park. The IAAF is the longest running cultural arts festival in the United States dedicated to showcasing and celebrating the cultural and historical legacy of people of African descent. 

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Photo credit: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

This year’s festival features performances from the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, the renown modern brass jazz group consisting of jazz great Phil Cochran’s seven sons; Grammy-nominee reggae singer Etana; and “Dancing with the Stars’” musical director Ray Chew.

Other performers include Charles Turner & Uptown Swing and Nkumu Kataly, who brings his RumbiaFunk, a fusion of gospel, funk, Afro Cuban, traditional and contemporary Congolese sounds, to Commodore Barry Park. This year’s dance and drum ensembles include Asase Yaa African-American Dance Theater and Kulu Mele, among others.

Reggae singer Etana. Photo credit: Etana/ FB

The International African Arts Festival began in 1971 as a fundraiser for the Uhuru Sasa School, a community-based initiative that educated youth and adults about African culture. Started as a small gathering with about 20 arts and crafts vendors, local entertainers and food prepared by parents of the school’s students, the inaugural festival attracted almost 2,000 people. Today, the event is known as the International African Arts Festival and has an estimated annual audience of 75,000.

The celebrations will be accompanied by a chess tournament, martial arts demonstrations, a daily children’s program, an arts and craft zone, a fashion show and, of course, plenty of food from the African diaspora.

Photo credit: Asase Yaa

The festival welcomes guests of all ages, backgrounds and musical preferences. Visit the official website for details.

International African Arts Festival

When: Thursday, July 4 – Sunday, July 7, 11:00 am – 9:00 pm – rain or shine

Where: Commodore Barry Park, Flushing Ave & N. Elliot Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Admission: $10 for a day pass; $60 for a four-day pass. For tickets, go here.


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