Kwanzaa – the African-American celebration of African heritage, chiefly the principles of family, community and culture – kicks off in Harlem on 26 Dec, with special events continuing until 1 Jan 2018. Celebrate in style by ticking off a theatrical Kwanzaa party, some arty edification and lip-smacking soul food.
Kwanzaa festival culminates in a joyful feast and a traditional gift-giving ritual. Be sure to swing by on 30 Dec for the main event: an epic party at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, with dance and music performances by Abdel R. Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre and Les Nubians, plus various family-friendly activities. The American Museum of Natural History will also host a one-off Kwanzaa shebang on the same night, featuring African dance, spoken word, live music and traditional arts and crafts.
To keep those Kwanzaa-vibes going strong, beeline to the neighbourhood’s Studio Museum, the first museum in the US devoted to the art of black and Latino artists. Home to a small but vibrant permanent collection, which includes painting, sculpture, photography and installations by pioneering talent such as Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis and Jacob Lawrence, the museum also stages rotating special exhibitions.
Worked up an appetite after all that edification and eye-candy? Flap your wings towards Red Rooster ( just around the corner from Studio Museum), where you can sample chef Marcus Samuelsson's Scandi-Southern mashup. We’re talking Sweden-meets-Ethiopia-via-Harlem global soul food and down-home delights such as cornbread, devilled eggs, mac ’n’ cheese, meatballs and shrimp ‘n’ grits. Bird-lovers can also sink their teeth into the city’s best fried chicken: Red Rooster’s famous ‘yardbird’. Fowl play.
Kwanzaa / 26 Dec, 2017-1 Jan, 2018 / www.nycgo.com
Apollo Theater / 30 Dec, 2017 / 253 W 125th St / Harlem / +1 212 531 5300 / 2pm & 7.30pm / apollotheater.org
The American Museum of Natural History / 30 Dec, 2017 / 200 Central Park W / Upper West Side / +1 212 769 5100 / noon-5pm / www.amnh.org
Studio Museum / 144 W 125th St / Harlem / +1 212 864 4500 / noon-9pm Thu-Fri, 10am-6pm Sat, from noon Sun / studiomuseum.org
Red Rooster / 310 Lenox Ave / Harlem / +1 212 792 9001 / lunch & dinner daily, brunch Sat-Sun / redroosterharlem.com