The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) hosted its annual Kwanzaa Family Festival on Dec. 17. This year’s event returned as an in-person celebration. 

Free performances were held every hour in the Arts Center’s Prudential Hall Lobby. Free family activities, included dance and drumming classes, face painting, storytelling, child-friendly arts and crafts workshops, plus a coat and toy give-away for the children of the community, were held throughout NJPAC’s indoor campus. Each event and activity embodied one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, a holiday dedicated to celebrating African American culture and community.

A Kwanaa candle-lighting ceremony and a Vibunzi—a tradition of honoring young people with an ear of corn (or in this case, a slice of cornbread) to represent the hope for the future they bring—was the highlight of the day’s celebration.

In addition, the Arts Center’s annual Kwanzaa Artisan Marketplace featuring local crafters, artists and merchants, filled both the Prudential Lobby and the hallways outside Prudential Hall’s First and Second tier entrances all weekend.

For the first time, the Kwanzaa Festival was presented in collaboration with a collective of the city’s other anchor cultural institutions including the Newark Museum of Art, Newark Arts, Newark Symphony Hall and the Newark Public Library, as well as in partnership with the City of Newark.

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