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.

Photo taken from below a shirtless performer who screams into a microphone, leaning over the edge of a stage. Above him is a sign that says Afropunk fest.
The Afropunk Festival is a celebration of the black punk scene © Kris Connor / Getty Images

Afropunk's history

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.’

The details

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

A singer holds a microphone while performing on stage; afropunk
FKA Twigs is slated to perform Sunday night © Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock

Afropunk lineup

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 couple pose side-by-side. The woman is wearing an outfit made of braided hair and man is wearing a colorful shirt, ripped pants and a large wooden necklace. Afropunk is all about self expression.
There are no rules when it comes to fashion at Afropunk © David Wolff - Patrick Redferns / Getty Images

Afropunk chic

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.

A pair of artists paint a mural at an Afropunk Festival.
Afropunk is also a showcase for local artists © Kris Connor / Getty Images

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 JerkDoughnuttery and more.

Local attractions

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.

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