The Afropunk Festival is a movement against the grain of modern pop culture, a true celebration of blackness in all its forms. For one weekend in August, the oldest park in Brooklyn transforms into a musical haven for artists and festival-goers who boldly exist outside ‘the norm’. Here’s a first-timers guide to enjoying the truly unique Brooklyn festival.
Afropunk is much more than a music festival, it’s a celebration of a culture and the very people behind shaping that culture. The festival's conceptual roots are based in carving out space for alternative black youth to thrive and reclaim the roots of Rock & Roll within the white punk subculture.
Though Brooklyn is the original home base, Afropunk is now global with festivals in Atlanta, Paris, London and Johannesburg.
The theme for this year’s Brooklyn Afropunk is ‘We See You’, promoting ‘a message that brings together Afropunk ideology and the people who support it, under the banner of acknowledgment, in resistance to those who strive to oppress.’
Location: Commodore Barry Park
Dates: August 24-25 (rain or shine)
Doors open: Noon
Tickets prices: single day passes $60-$70; two-day passes $130; $160 VIP (all purchased online)
How to get there: N, 5, C trains
Saturday’s musical lineup includes international acts such as Jill Scott, Leon Bridges, Goldlink, Tierra Whack, Nao JID and Red Arkade. Sunday will showcase an eclectic mix that includes FKA Twigs (who rarely performs in the US), Santigold, Toro Y Moi Dany Brown and Rebelmatic.
There are four stages – black, gold, red and green – with artists rotating every hour. Download the Afropunk app for set times and to plan your day around which artists you want to see. Organized fun is key here because the crowds and foot traffic will likely get very intense (and almost immovable) between performances, especially when big-name artists hit the stage.
A walk through the crowds at Afropunk is an immersive experience. Every inch of the park is an extravagant fashion show with people of all ages wrapped in decadent headscarves, dripped in jewels or chains or wearing very little at all. So pull out that outfit you’ve been too afraid to wear in public because anything goes under the Afropunk spotlight.
Support a cause
Outside of aesthetics and music, Afropunk is filled with a wealth of knowledge. Festival creators say ‘Afropunk is the microphone of thought and a different perspective’
‘Activism Row’ is a section dedicated to educating festival-goers on how they can make a difference. Before making it to any of the stages, you are instantly engulfed with a vast array of black-made art, posters, tributes and murals celebrating the lives of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
More than music
If you get tired of hopping from stage to stage you can join the interactive part of the festival by engaging in live art and painting. Or strike a pose in front of one the interactive backdrops intentionally propped up to satisfy all of your Instagram needs.
Where to eat
Whether you’re in the mood for bite-size, deep-fried chicken and waffles smothered in syrup, perfectly spiced Jamaican jerk chicken, or a plant-based alternative, Afropunk has welcomed some of New York's top eateries like Sweet Chick, Try Vegan, Lolo's Seafood Shack, Jamrock Jerk, Doughnuttery and more.
While traveling around the Fort Green area, remember there is an endless bank of activities at your disposal. Take the B train down to Brooklyn Academy of Music to see BAM’s oldest performing arts center or follow your sweet tooth down to Dough for an NYC-native approved donut.