Immerse Yourself in Uptown Culture at These 5 Harlem Week 2023 Events

This year's theme is "Be the Change."

Brandee Sanders
August 16, 2023

Summer seasons Uptown wouldn’t be complete without Harlem Week. The community-driven celebration—which spans 11 days—is a cultural pillar that is synonymous with the local neighborhood. Now in its 49th year, the hybrid festival is redefining what it means to embrace a "Harlem State of Mind" and experience the magic of the community.

“The mission of Harlem Week remains the same, to provide direction, hope, inspiration, leadership, focus, and unity to the 'Harlems' of our nation and beyond,” said Lloyd Williams, Harlem Week co-founder and CEO of The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, in a past interview with Neighbors. “Be it in Watts, LA, Cicero, IL, East St. Louis, New Orleans, Kingston, Jamaica, Bristol, England, etc., we want to celebrate the people, arts, culture, entertainment, and history that Harlem is known for throughout the world."

Under the umbrella of this year's theme "Be the Change," the programming lineup includes events centered on celebrating local entrepreneurship and the arts, as well as forums focused on economic development and social justice. From a community conversation that commemorates hip hop's 50th anniversary to virtual dance parties, here are five Harlem Week events to add to your calendar.

An Ode to the Legacy of Hip Hop Fashion

Harlem on My Mind Conversation: Hip Hop Fashion

August 16 | 7:30 PM

From Kangols and rope chains to Coogi sweaters, fashion has always been an influential element of hip hop culture since its birth in the Bronx 50 years ago, and it continues to remain that way as it evolves. In celebration of hip hop’s 50th anniversary, Harlem Week will host a candid conversation with music legends, fashion visionaries, and community leaders about how the two forms of creative expression intersect. The panel, which will be led by Deborah Williams, creator of HerGame2 and director of Harlem Week’s fashion shows, will include JT Thompson, chairman of the Hip Hop Hall of Fame, Elena Romero, curator of the Fresh, Fly, and Fabulous: Fifty Years of Hip Hop Style exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology, iconic rapper Big Daddy Kane, fashion trailblazer Karl Kani and businessman Derrick Ferguson.

A (Virtual) Dance Off

Harlem Week At-Home Dance Party

August 19 | 5:00 PM 

Dance the evening away at Harlem Week’s hybrid dance party! The event will feature nostalgic tunes across a myriad of genres spun by a collective of DJs. Whether you’re a seasoned dancer, a certified two-stepper, or you admittedly have two left feet, all are welcome to join in on the fun from the comfort of their own home and enjoy this virtual event.

Kid’s Day Out

NYC Children’s Festival

August 19 | 12:00 PM 

Harlem Week is an intergenerational celebration with opportunities for people of all ages to experience the beauty of Uptown—even the youngest community members. Created for youth between the ages of 5 and 12, the NYC Children’s Festival will feature an afternoon of storytelling, performances by dance troupes, step teams, poets and musicians, arts & crafts, double Dutch competitions, face painting, and more. 

Cinema on The Great Hill

Harlem Week x Imagenation Outdoor Film Festival

August 19 | 6:00 PM 

Take in a movie under the stars at The Great Hill in St. Nicholas Park. This alfresco film festival will feature a screening of Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes. The 2023 documentary explores the life and times of legendary musician and composer Max Roach; a North Carolina-born, Brooklyn-bred bebop pioneer whose musical journey was intertwined with Harlem's historic arts scene. 

A Summer Block Party to Remember

Harlem Day

August 20 | 1:00 PM 

Harlem Day is the largest event on the Harlem Week lineup. Sitting at the intersection of the arts and entrepreneurship, the well-attended celebration of community features performances from local, national, and international artists that mark different eras of music and hundreds of food and merchandise vendors. This year's block party will feature Broadway play performances, celebrations curated by the Hip Hop Hall of Fame, and a special tribute to iconic activist, actor, musician, and Harlem native Harry Belafonte.

Visit Harlem Week's website for the full lineup of events.

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