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African World Festival returns to its historic home on Hart Plaza in Detroit

Kaitlyn Luckoff
The Detroit News

A time-honored celebration of African culture, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History’s 39th African World Festival will take place Friday-Sunday at Detroit's Hart Plaza. The event will highlight many performers, as well as more than 150 vendors.

After being held at the Wright museum for more than a decade, the festival will return to its historic location at Hart Plaza this year. Festival director Nija Kai said the audience loves to be on the riverfront, and as the festival continues to grow each year, a larger location was needed as the event has outgrown the museum site. 

The celebration will begin on Friday at 4 p.m. with a performance of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" by winner of "The Voice" Cam Anthony. Other headliners include Mama Sol, Lizz Wright, The Legendary Wailers, Seun Kuti, and We Are Scorpio feat. jessica Care moore + Steffanie Christi'an. A full list of performers, as well as the performance schedule, can be found here

Lizz Wright performing.

Kai said there will be a wide variety of performances and activities, as one of the main goals of the festival is to offer entertainment for people of all ages and interests. 

 "There are two main stages, the Ford main stage and then the pyramid art stage, which will have a variety of local, national, and international performances," Kai said. "There's just a variety of art presentations that will happen, theater, all of that going on over three days at the pyramid art the Watato village we focus on activities and presentations designed specifically for ages three to 13...We have sports, we have dance, we have martial arts, kickboxing, a wide assortment of activities over the three days that are specifically (for) audience participation."

In addition to the many performances and activities, there will be a marketplace at the event for attendees with over 150 vendors selling art, books, jewelry, and many more souvenirs from around the world. There will also be a food village offering an assortment of Caribbean cuisine, as well as food from the African continent and African American cuisine according to Kai.

This year, the festival is expecting between 20,000 and 30,000 attendees each day according to Kai. 

"We invite the full community to come on down and have a wonderful opportunity to acquaint themselves with some of the traditions and entertainment and history, as well as the delicious food and drink of the African world," Kai said.

African World Festival

11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Sunday

Hart Plaza

1 Hart Plaza, Detroit

Tickets: Free for Wright museum members. General admission is $15 a day for adults and $10 a day for children. Tickets can be purchased here. at