Celebrations will take place throughout the state for the holiday Dr. Maulana Karenga created in 1966 as a way for “African American families to reconnect to their roots and their community.”
This year marks the 56th anniversary of the first Kwanzaa celebration. In 1966, activist and scholar Dr. Maulana Karenga created the holiday as a way for “African American families to reconnect to their roots and their community,” according to The Free Library of Philadelphia.
Kwanzaa starts annually on Dec. 26 and ends on Jan. 1. Those who celebrate light a candle in the Kinara each night to commemorate the core principle of the day. In order, they are: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith).
These 7 Kwanzaa celebrations in Pennsylvania are open to the public, although some require registration or ticketed admission.
The African American Museum of Philadelphia
Philadelphia’s African American Museum celebrates Kwanzaa each day from Monday, Dec. 26 to Sunday, Jan. 1. Each event focuses on the day’s core principle. Admission and registration are required.
- Dec. 26: Kwanzaa Unity Celebration & Showcase—poetry, interactive dance, a drum circle, and more. 6:30-8:30 p.m.
- Dec. 27: Defining Ourselves: Black Professionals On the Move—young Black entrepreneurs and professionals explore and answer questions about identity and defining oneself in industry. 6:30-8 p.m.
- Dec. 28: The Griots Hour with I.M. Story Adventures—Griot Thembi joins the community for a family storytime to share tales and stories about working together to accomplish great things. 6:30-7:30 p.m.
- Dec. 29: Market & Making—a curated Black-owned business night market along with music, games, drop-in Kwanzaa activities, vendors, and a paper quilt making workshop. 4:30-8:30 p.m.
- Dec. 30: Living Our Purpose through Vision & Spirit—a guided gallery walk through the current exhibition, Vision and Spirit: African American Art then an opportunity to create a “purpose” vision board or interpret your purpose through a guided paint party with “Paint by Zay.” 4:30-9 p.m
- Dec. 31: Harriett’s Presents: The Cookbook Book Club—Founder of Harriett’s Bookshop, Jeannine Cook, hits the kitchen with a special guest who takes a recipe from “page to plate.” 6:30-7:30 p.m.
- Jan. 1: Embodying Kwanzaa: A Meditation and Movement Practice—Counselor and Yogi Shesheena Bray will lead virtual participants through meditation, Kwanzaa reflections, light yoga, and intention setting on how to embody the Principles of Kwanzaa all year round. Virtually 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Location: 701 Arch Street, Philadelphia
Kwanzaa Storytime (Lancaster)
The Lancaster African American Cultural Alliance presents Kwanzaa Storytime at the Lancaster Public Library’s Lancaster City Branch on Wednesday, Dec. 28 at 6 p.m. Children up to age 8 (accompanied by an adult) will enjoy stories, songs, crafts, and more.
Location: 125 North Duke Street, Lancaster, Lancaster County
Kwanzaa Celebration at Auberle’s 412 Youth Zone (Pittsburgh)
Auberle offers programs and services to families, and on Tuesday, Dec. 27, Auberle will host a Kwanzaa Celebration with a session on culture and community that takes a deeper dive into the celebration of Kwanzaa for the organization’s youth. The presentation will be followed by food and conversation. All participants will earn a stipend.
Location: 304 Wood Street, 6th Floor, Pittsburgh
Kwanzaa Celebration at Sesame Place (Langhorne)
Join the Sesame Street friends each evening during Kwanzaa at Sesame Place in Langhorne. From Dec. 26 to January 1 at 4:30 p.m. at the Sesame Street Neighborhood, the celebration includes a special storytime and Kinera lighting. Admission to the park is required to attend the festivities.
Location: 100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, Bucks County
AWC Holiday Community Day (Pittsburgh)
Families are invited to come to the free Holiday Community Day at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center on Saturday, Dec. 17 from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. Guests will learn about Kwanzaa and engage in hands-on activities, receive free books while supplies last, and take pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Kwanzaa dancers and drummers will perform and local vendors will sell jewelry, art, clothing, and more. Registration is requested.
Location: 980 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh
Shine A Light! At the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History (Philadelphia)
Join jkid4all, The Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, and the Jewish Federation of North America on On Monday, Dec. 26 from 3:30 to 5 p.m., for an afternoon of learning about light. Shine A Light is an event that highlights the history and customs of Kwanzaa as well as those of Hanukkah. Kids will make a light-themed take-home craft. The event will end with the lighting of the Kinara for Kwanzaa and the Hanukkah menorah. Registration is free but required.
Location: 101 South Independence Mall East (Corner of 5th & Market), Philadelphia