Are you looking for some hot fun in the summertime in cities that are a quick flight, train ride, or drive from New York City? Well, pack your bags and bring your good vibes only for getaways to Philadelphia, Miami, Baltimore, and Toronto, where you’ll find plenty of Black cultural attractions and outdoor activities. Keeping COVID-19 updates in mind, here are five festival highlights to put on your calendar, including one close to home.
ODUNDE Festival in Philadelphia; June 5-12
Philly knows how to show up and show out. Now in its 45th year, each June thousands of folks flock to this week-long event in South Philadelphia, which is hailed as one of the largest African American street festivals in the country. Enjoy music, food, dance and cultural programming, and shop for authentic jewelry and crafts from vendors from Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean. While in town, visit Mother Bethel A.M.E. the founding church of the African Methodist Episcopal denomination.
American Black Film Festival in Miami; June 15-19 (and virtually June 20-30)
Issa Rae is this year’s ABFF ambassador and will screen her highly anticipated HBO Max series “RAP SH!T” as part of the festival’s Saturday night lineup. After 26 years, ABFF is still the place to see and be seen if you enjoy exclusive movie and TV screenings, cocktail-flowing receptions, networking with film industry folks, and if like Rae, you like rooting for everybody Black. While in town, visit the historic Overton neighborhood where celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson opened his newest Red Rooster restaurant.
Schomburg Center Literary Festival in Harlem; June 18
You don’t have to leave Harlem to find a lit literary event. Now in its fourth year, the Schomburg festival is free and open to the public, and features readings, panel discussions, and workshops with Black female scribes Roxane Gay, Jacqueline Woodson, Linda Villarosa and Mahoghany L. Browne. The festival takes place in the Schomburg’s main building, as well as outdoors on 135th Street between Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevards, on stages named after Adam Clayton Powell and Zora Neale Hurston. While in town, brunch at BLVD Bistro.
AFRAM in Baltimore; June 18-19
This Juneteenth and Father’s Day weekend, AFRAM is back and doing it big in Druid Hill Park (yes, the 90s R&B group Dru Hill took their name from this Baltimore City landmark). So grab your crew and come out to this long-standing, family-friendly event, where you can eat and shop til you drop, and sing along with soul-stirring hits by headliners Ne-Yo, El DeBarge, Le’Andria Johnson and The O’Jays. While in town, visit the “Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth.” featuring Kendrick Lamar, James Baldwin, Muhammad Ali and Baltimore native Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum through Aug. 14.
Toronto Caribbean Carnival in Toronto; July 28-31
Affectionately called Caribana, this massive Caribbean carnival that celebrates West Indian and Black Canadian traditions is one of the largest cultural festivals in North America. Annually the festivities attract over a million visitors, and this year marks the 55th anniversary of the Grande Parade. But whether you dutty whine in the parade or you dance in the streets as a spectator, this colorful display of elaborate costumes, music and culture is always a good time. While in town, grab a plate of escovitch fish, jerk wings and other tasty tings at The Real Jerk (two locations).