Created in 1966, the week-long holiday celebration of Kwanzaa kicks off on December 26. This seven-night holiday honors both African Americana and Pan-African culture from around the world through a variety of extravagant feasts, music, dance, cultural celebrations, gifts, and more.

Kwanzaa centers around seven core principles:

  • Unity
  • Self-determination
  • Collective work and responsibility
  • Cooperative economics
  • Purpose
  • Creativity
  • Faith

The last day of Kwanzaa wraps up the week by reflecting on these principles and the cultural values that distinguish this community and its people. It’s also important to remember that because it is a cultural holiday rather than a religious holiday, Kwanzaa is a celebration open to anyone — regardless of their spiritual leanings.

If you’re looking to join in the celebration of Kwanzaa, there are many communities throughout the United States that have lots of different organized events and festivities. Here are just five US cities that are perfect for celebrating Kwanzaa.

Atlanta


There is no shortage of ways to celebrate Kwanzaa in Atlanta. Headed up by the Atlanta Regional Kwanzaa Association, the holiday is celebrated through a myriad of special events scattered across the metro area, making it easy to find an activity that fits your schedule and interests. The Umoja Night celebration generally features live musical performances, vendors selling a variety of art creations, food and drink, and more. Kids will enjoy the special celebrations at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta, featuring a bevy of cultural activities, storytelling, and arts and crafts. The local community is also committed to using the Kwanzaa holiday to boost economic and financial literacy through empowerment classes and lectures.

Chicago

Whether you are looking for online or in-person Kwanzaa festivities, you will find them in Chicago. The Windy City is home to a number of Kwanzaa celebration opportunities. Hartzell Memorial United Methodist Church usually offers a worship celebration featuring authentic African drumming and dance. ADODI Chicago‘s Kwanzaa celebration delights attendees with the candle-lighting ceremony, dancing, and storytelling. The popular vendor marketplace at Malcolm X College is always a great place to pick up some handmade goods or other items reflective of this unique culture. Simon Education is typically a good alternative to in-person celebrations, with its online festival featuring puzzles, quizzes, and other enriching and educational activities.

Houston

The city of Houston offers a wide array of Kwanzaa celebration events. Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church in the Heights is known as the place to be for a night of singing, dancing, and storytelling. You can also join the Shrines of the Black Madonna of the Pan-African Orthodox Christian Church for an evening for shopping at the cultural market, a drum call performance, and a formal celebration of the Kwanzaa principle of faith. The Emancipation Economic Development Council and Project Row Houses are known for hosting special events for children, featuring game stations and arts and crafts for kids.

RELATED: How to Spend a Weekend of Black History & Culture in Washington D.C.

Los Angeles

It may not feel like the holiday season for anyone arriving in the sunshine of Southern California on some cheap flights in December; however, Los Angeles is alive with the spirit of Kwanzaa with a number of celebrations. The A.C. Bilbrew Library typically offers a special Kwanzaa Marketplace & Bazaar, while the Lula Washington Dance Theater uses dance as a vehicle to lean into the festivities. The Farm at Pomona Fairplex is a great place to celebrate the holiday with children. The facility’s Kwanzaa Joy Celebration reflects on all seven key principles through artistic performances and a delicious cultural food tasting. Visitors can also pick up a gift from the local artisan marketplace.

New York City

 

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The diversity inherently present in New York City makes it a great place to lean into the Kwanzaa celebration. Kwanzaa Fest Brooklyn is always a good time for the whole family, featuring a wide array of vendors and a DJ spinning the tunes. Both Linden Studios and the Jamaica Center for the Arts in Queens are known for their Kwanzaa performances, celebrating the culture through dance and music. Over in the Bronx, Parkchester’s Annual Celebration of Kwanzaa program is dedicated to honoring the fifth principle of purpose. The HolidayMania festival in Harlem typically boasts a dedicated Kwanzaa Village, the chance to spin the Wheel of Kwanzaa, and more fun activities for people of all ages.

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