Highlights: Made In America, Celebration Of Black Writing & The BlackStar Film Festival
From spring until fall, Philadelphia hosts a variety of festivals that music fans and culture vultures will consider must-dos, must-sees and must-hears. For music fans, there's the second-annual Budweiser Made In America concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, headlined by Beyonce. Literature lovers will swoon over the Celebration of Black Writing, one of the oldest African-American literary events in the nation. And for movie buffs, the sophomore BlackStar Film Festival, a unique gathering of filmmakers and storytellers of the African diaspora, will be a two-thumbs-up experience. Here are six sizzling festivals worth attending in Philly this spring and beyond:
- Marking its 29th year in 2013, the citywide Celebration of Black Writing, hosted by Art Sanctuary, serves as one of the oldest African-American literary events in the nation. The month-long festival, themed Beautiful Without Permission: Celebrating the Literary Achievements of Black Women, features author readings and workshops for emerging writers and closes with a family day, complete with some of Philadelphia's best food trucks, vendors, performances and more. This year's Lifetime Achievement Award goes to playwright Ntozake Shange, author of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, and artist Nnenna Freelon. May 4-June 1. (215) 232-4485, artsanctuary.org
- Philly's own Grammy®-winning hip-hop band The Roots bring together artists from various genres for a daylong concert at the Festival Pier at Penn's Landing. In its sixth year, The Roots Picnic includes all-star performances by Solange, Gary Clark Jr., Naughty by Nature, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and, of course, The Roots. June 1. Festival Pier at Penn's Landing, 601 N. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 629-3200, okayplayer.com/rootspicnic
- There's no better place to celebrate America's birthday than in its birthplace, and Philadelphia marks the Fourth of July with a free multi-day festival—Wawa Welcome America!—that includes a concert and fireworks extravaganza at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Last year, Common, Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah and others graced the stage. Stay tuned for details about this year's musical guests. July 1-7, with Art Museum concert taking place on July 4.
26th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway, welcomeamerica.com
- Dubbed "the black Sundance" by Ebony magazine, the BlackStar Film Festival gathers filmmakers and cinema lovers for screenings and workshops that illuminate the global black experience. Helmed by honorary co-chairs Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter of The Roots, this year's festival features a special transmedia performance with DJ King Britt. Also new this year: a ceremony that honors the legacy of the Howard University Film Program, screenings at the Barnes Foundation and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, a critical issues symposium, an international music showcase and more. August 1-4.
(215) 232-4485 , blackstarfest.org
- Last year, music lovers were thrilled when Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter stood on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, alongside Jay-Z, to announce that a two-day musical extravaganza would take place on the Parkway: Budweiser Made In America. After an enormously successful weekend, Made In America returns to Philadelphia for year two. Acts include Beyonce, Nine Inch Nails, Public Enemy, Emilee Sande, Solange and more. August 31- September 1. madeinamericafest.com
- Philadelphia has a rich jazz legacy, and this fall, the city welcomes the first-ever Philadelphia United Jazz Festival and Celebration. The festival aims to show off the outstanding jazz music created, performed and exported from Philadelphia. The historic Clef Jazz Club will serve as the event's home base with several satellite stages located on Broad Street. September 21-22. Clef Club, 738 S. Broad Street, (215) 893-9912, clefclubofjazz.org
Written by Janice Temple