30th Annual

African Festival of the Arts • Chicago

Dates: Labor Day Weekend: Fri-Mon August 30-September 2, 2019
Location: Washington Park- Chicago, IL
Hours: 10AM-10PM daily
Attendance: 250,000
Demographics: African American Families
Beneficiary: Africa International House
Theme: Celebration of African Culture


In a city that prides itself in the quantity and quality of its summer festivals, The African Festival of the Arts (AFA) is one of Chicago's crown jewels. Drawing more than a quarter of a million people over the Labor Day weekend, African Festival of the Arts is now considered to be the single largest African-centered event in the USA and the most important of its kind in Chicago. African Festival of the Arts is the flagship program of the Africa International House (AIH).

During its 30 -year history, this 4- day event has stayed perfectly true to its mission: to promote, preserve and propagate African American culture. The AFA is a series of festivals within a festival built around African culture: art, music, dance, history and current interests and pursuits. Stimulation is the operative word used to describe the African Festival of the Arts (AFA). The visitor's first rush of sights, sounds and sweet and savory smells are almost overwhelming. The senses can barely take it all in. The event site spans more than twelve acres and each one of them is jam packed with cultural entertainment, education, shopping, food, drink and fun including:

African Festival of the Arts And... spontaneous visits from VIP's...

The Art:
The Fine Arts Pavilion features hundreds of thousands of pieces of collectible art including everything from original oils, watercolors, pastel, mixed media, acrylics, wood, and metal sculptures, along with wearable art and jewelry. All art displayed at the AFA is juried and selected by a panel of experts. Hundreds of artists compete for the privilege of showing and selling their art. More than a million dollars in art sales occur in the Fine Art Pavilion each year.

The Market:
The African Market is the 'shopping center' of AFA. The ambience, aromas, colors, products, and transactions are true to the markets of Africa. Shoppers browse among the offerings of museum quality African art, unique beads, fabric, sculptures, baskets, musical instruments, clothing and wearable art.

The Drums:
Lending ambience to the festival is the Drum Village, led by Master Drummers Olu Shakoor and Baba Tyemba Mtu. The Drum Village operates continuously featuring world class drumming performed by some of the best drummers from around the world.

The Music & Entertainment:
AFA has three music stages, but music seems to be everywhere at the AFA. Every music offering- from the music of the world class drummers, to Blues, to House Music, and to mainstream national headliners- represents the very best in its class. Music is offered continuously throughout the event- a steady, three-day outpouring of the crème de la crème of African based music. Recent past national music headliners on the Mainstage included Angelique Kidjo, Chaka Khan, India Arie, Temptations,Julie Dexter with VLE, India Arie, Tito Jackson, Soweto Street Band, Brandy, Avant,Ahmad Jamal, Kool & the Gang, George Clinton, Erykha Badu, MC Lyte, Rachelle Ferrell, Les Nubians, and more.