Two years after going virtual, the Odunde Festival is back in person. Odunde is one of the largest African-American street festivals in the country, bringing together up to 500,000 people a year to celebrate African culture. As always, the festival takes place on the second Sunday of June. This year, music, street vendors, crafts and traditional cuisine will all return to the city on June 12.
The Odunde Festival was created by former social worker Lois Fernandez. In 1975, Fernandez – inspired by a Yoruba pilgrimage she experienced while traveling in Africa three years prior – secured a $100 grant and started the first Odunde Festival. What started as a gathering of fifty people is now a 15-block celebration.
Even after his death in 2017, the festival remained a Philadelphia staple. For the 2022 edition, there will be several events before the Odunde Festival, starting June 8.
Here’s everything you need to know about the free festival:
The main festival takes place on Sunday and will welcome visitors from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. All streets from 18th St. and South St. to 24th St. and South St. will be closed. As well as blocks from 23rd St. to Grays Ferry Ave. and Christian St. The fifteen block festival hub will be the intersection of 23rd St. and South St.
Based on a religious pilgrimage, the Odunde festival holds a procession at noon. During the celebration, participants make an offering of fruits and flowers to Oshun, the Yoruba goddess of the river. The procession begins at the South Street Bridge and heads towards the Schuylkill River.
The performers were selected through a competition in May. Nearly twenty artists will perform on both stages in Odunde throughout the day. Mobbluz, DJ Chase Flow, Sunnie and Maya Simone are among the winners.
This year brings 100 arts and crafts vendors, including clothing, jewelry, and art vendors.
The festival brings African, Caribbean, Soul and Brazilian food to Philadelphia. There will be food vendors within fifteen blocks of the festival, including vendors JJ Jamaican Truck and Chef King. Dining options range from $10 to $20.
(Food) To open the week of the festival, Odunde is hosting a free breakfast to honor the memory of Lois Fernandez by supporting a small business. Between 7am and 9am you can head to the local restaurant in Mount Airy Cherish for free sandwiches and coffee. (Free)
📍 7060 Germantown Ave.
(Skills Learning/Food) If you are looking to learn more about African headwrapping, there will be an evening at the Sky Lounge. You can learn and participate in a tasting from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event is free, but you must call and confirm your presence beforehand. (Free)
📍 1500 Locust St. 📞 RSVP at 215-796-7460 or 2267-320-4364
(Forum) This event is for people interested in learning more about African business and Africa-US trade relations, with discussions on tourism, education, and cultural exchange initiatives. Panelist Toure’ Ibrahima (Ambassador of Côte d’Ivoire), Erieka Bennett (African Diaspora Forum), Allassane Diallo (Chargé d’Affaires of Mali) and Melvin P. Foote (Collection for Africa) will be at the Temple University Gladfelter Hall (Room 107), 3-5:30 p.m. The event is free, but you must Register before attending. (Free)
📍 11th and Berks St. at Pollett Walk.
(Forum) If you are interested in economic relations between the Caribbean and the United States, attend the roundtable at Temple University Gladfelter Hall (room 107), from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Promotions Corporation), Worrell Nero (Honorary Consul General of Saint Kitts and Nevis) and Merytony Pierre-Jean Nathan (Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce of Haiti) will speak. The event is free, but Register before attending. (Free)
📍 11th and Berks St. at Pollett Walk.
Odunde is a non-profit organization, so the funds will go to their Odunde 365 program, an initiative that offers free cooking classes, yoga, African dance, hip-hop, videography, karate, and other resources to young people in Philadelphia.