The history of Harlem, one of Manhattan’s best known neighborhoods, is infused with art, culture, and a unique notion of camaraderie. Today, it’s hard to think of Harlem without recalling the Harlem Renaissance, the period in the 1920’s and 30’s when an abundance of artistic and intellectual work poured out from the American black community that resided there. Figures of this cultural explosion include Langston Hughes, W.E.B Du Bois, Billie Holiday, Zora Neale Hurston, Ella Fitzgerald, and James Weldon Johnson, and many other talented artists of all mediums.
This summer, you can experience the vibrant culture of Harlem first hand at Harlem Week, a celebration of Harlem’s past, present, and future. Due to the vast success and adoration of the Harlem Week activities, the celebration has expanded over the years to incorporate over a month’s worth of events. That’s right—Harlem Week is a whole month long. This year, you have until August 24th to enjoy live music, film festivals, Harlem tours, 5k races, basketball games, theatrical performances, farmers’ markets, arts and crafts showcases, dance contests, fashion shows and even career and college fairs.
Harlem tours are the best way to get a feel for the neighborhood and learn about it’s long and diverse history before exploring on your own. Distinguished architecture, elaborate churches, infamous rowhouses, soulful jazz clubs, and seedy speakeasies make Harlem a sight to behold. In a neighborhood packed full of hidden treasures, Harlem tours are best done on foot—so that you don’t miss a thing!
Then, of course, you’ll want to see what Harlem Week is all about. There’s so much going on for the celebration that I can’t divulge it all (you can check out the website here to see what’s happening when you’re in town). Instead, I’ve put together a list of some of the most remarkable events, so you can get a taste of Harlem Week’s unique flavor.
“Summer in the City” – August 17, 2013
A festival that attracts over 60,000 attendees, “Summer in the City” is a fusion of music, dance, film, and family fun. The main attraction, an outdoor concert features R&B, rock, and hip-hop musicians is enhanced with regional dance performances. At the festival, you can also enjoy the Outdoor Film Festival, the Fashion Flava Show, a special “Children’s Festival” with kids’ activities, swimming lessons and exercise demonstations, the Peace in our Communities conference, and the Historic Black College Fair.
Harlem 5K Run/Walk for Peace in Our Communities – August 24, 2013
A city-wide effort to counter gun violence, bullying, and domestic violence, the 5K Run and Walk-A-Thon attracts thousands of participants from New York and around the world! You can register to participate or show your support for the cause as a spectator.
Amateur Night at the Apollo – August 7, 14, 21, & 28, 2013
This weekly event, held at the world famous Apollo Theater, gives aspiring musicians, singers, dancers, comedians, rappers, and performance poets the chance to become Apollo legends. During August, in honor of Harlem Week, the Amateur Night will feature special guests such as Kool Moe Dee and Jeff Redd.