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Festivals Traditional Style 2016






This summer, Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC)’s Folk Arts program will have a presence at five community festivals. BAC’s event tents will provide friendly neighborhood gathering places for festival-goers to dive into the cultures that drive our borough. From July through September, BAC will host hands-on workshops, discussions on cultural issues, interviews with artists, and presentations and performances by local groups. Have a conversation with your neighbor, learn a new skill, participate in a spiritual ceremony—experience the local, the intimate, and the cultural: Festivals Traditional Style.

All events are free.


International African Arts Festival (IAAF)

July 1 - 4, 2016

Commodore Barry Park, Navy Yard (Flushing Avenue and Navy St.)

The International African Arts Festival (IAAF) began in 1971 as the African Street Carnival. Over the past four decades, IAAF has expanded into a ten-acre African open-air market with entertainment stages featuring both local traditional artists and artists with roots in the traditional arts who have grown to achieve national and international acclaim. Each summer, over 75,000 people flock to Commodore Barry Park to sample African delicacies, shop for colorful fabrics and clothing, attend workshops on yoga, holistic wellness, traditional medicine, and participate in spiritual ceremonies led by artists including Ghanaian drummer and BAC Teaching Artist Harold Akyeampong.

BAC Event: "Song, Ceremony, and Stories from West Africa and the Caribbean"

Saturday, July 2, 2pm - 6pm

BAC Folk Arts is proud to host an intimate program of traditional African arts at the IAAF. Visitors to the BAC Folk Arts Tent will experience West African folktales through the storytelling of Dr. Rokoto, Chief of Ada, Ghana; participate in a free drumming workshop with Ghanaian drummer Harold Akyeampong; see a hands-on demonstration of Ghanaian Kente cloth weaving on a traditional loom with Nana Berchie; listen to the complex tones of the 21-stringed kora with Gambian musician Salieu Suso; and discuss the preservation of the Garifuna language through music and drumming with Garifuna artist James Lovell. Special guests will include the Carriacou Big Drum Dancers from Carriacou, Grenada, who will share a traditional religious and social ritual.

BAC Collaborative Event: “Traditional West African Religious Ceremony”

Sunday, July 3, 4pm - 6pm

For more than 25 years, OBAATANPA House of Hope International, a Brooklyn-based Ghanaian Akan spiritual and cultural organization, has organized Nana Asuo Gyebi Afahye at the IAAF. Nana Asuo Gyebi Afahye is a Ghanaian Akan celebration of life, natural living, and thanksgiving that incorporates traditional healing practices practiced in Brooklyn. Harold Akyeampong and the Ritual Aid Society will guide visitors through the ceremony and help them navigate this sacred space. (Please, no photos or video permitted.) 

Our Lady of Mount Carmel & San Paolino di Nola Feast "Giglio Festival"

July 6 - 16, 2016

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (275 North 8th Street, Williamsburg)

Southern Italians migrated to Brooklyn in the 1860s, bringing with them the rich tradition of the Giglio Feast, also known as the feast of the lilies. Since 1903, the Italian community in north Williamsburg has commemorated the life of St. Paulinus every July with a neighborhood celebration. Local artisans labor for months to construct a seven-story tower of aluminum, paper maché, and plastic decorated with giglio (lilies). During the festival, teams of men hoist this tower into the air and carry it through the streets surrounding Our Lady of Mount Carmel, cheered on by crowds accompanied by trucks selling sausages, peppers, and zeppoles. The community is eager to create new alliances with fellow artists and New Yorkers to preserve this colorful and delicious celebration.

BAC Event: "Dance the Giglio and Sing to the Saints”

Tuesday, July 12, 7pm

The BAC Folk Arts Tent will host an evening of live music featuring the Southern Italian folk band Newpoli from the regions of Campania and Puglia and Taino-Dominican vocalist and performer Irka Mateo, who will perform salve, a sacred call and response dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Borough President Eric L. Adams' Third Annual International Day of Friendship

August 7, 2016, 1pm - 5pm

Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon Street, Downtown Brooklyn

Brooklyn’s multicultural festivals showcase the diversity of our borough and bring out the Brooklyn pride in all of us. Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams believes that our diversity is our strength and his annual International Day of Friendship (IDOF) brings dozens of cultural practitioners together to share their traditions and invoke a sense of unity among all Brooklynites. 

BAC Mainstage Event:

In partnership with Borough President Adams, Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC) will present cultural performances by the following folk artists on the mainstage, including: Kaina Quenga performing the Hawaiian Hula; Dancing Crane Georgian Dance Company performing regional dances of Georgia; Yasser Darwish performing the Egyptian Whirling Dervish; Eva Salina and Peter Stan, singing traditional and traditionally-based Balkan music; The D.R.E.A.M (Dance Rules Everything Around Me) Ring presenting Flex dance, a form of street dance that evolved from the Jamaican Bruk Up found in dance halls and reggae clubs; Salamat Ali demonstrating the connection between Pakistani poetry and Ghazl songs; Taino-Dominican vocalist, storyteller, and folk music researcher Irka Mateo, singing salve, a sacred call and response dedicated to the Virgin Mary; Aeilushi and Paulom Mistry teaching and showcasing the Garba, a dance form that originated in the state of Gujarat in India, and Jenny Luna and Dolunay, performing Rumeli urban folk music of the Turkish people across the Balkans.

Pakistan Independence Day Mela

August 20, 2016, 12pm - 6pm

Coney Island Avenue between Avenue H and Newkirk Avenue

The neighborhood of Midwood, also known as “Little Pakistan,” is a refuge for Pakistani-Americans. The neighborhood is also a cultural nucleus of music, dance, henna, and moonlight Ramadan celebrations. In August, the annual mela (Sanskrit for “gathering”) street fair celebrates Pakistan’s 1947 independence from Great Britain. Since 1990, the festival has attracted more than 15,000 Pakistani-Americans from around the country each year, drawing crowds to its booths of Pakistani cuisine, handicrafts, boutiques, children’s entertainment, and a main stage featuring Pakistani pop artists. 

BAC Event: "Mushaira: Poetic Voices of the Muslim World"

Saturday, August 20, 2:30pm

The BAC Folk Arts Tent will recreate the intimate teahouse atmosphere of a mushaira, a Pakistani poetry recital. Visitors will get a glimpse into how poetry is transformed into song with a performance by musician Aziz Perezada and will hear the traditionally- and classically-inspired music of Azra Riaz and Salamat Ali. Visitors will also be invited to learn how to sing Sufi music, to play tabla with 10-year-old drumming sensation Saboor Peerzada, and to dance bhangra with Rhythm Toleee. Poetic Voices of the Muslim World, a touring exhibition sponsored by City Lore, will be on view. This event is sponsored by The Pakistani American Merchants Association.

Guyanese Folk Festival

September 4, 2016, 12pm - 5pm

Old Boys High School Grounds
736 Rutland Road & Troy Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11203

For the past 15 years, the Guyana Cultural Association of New York has hosted a series of programs that highlight Guyana’s rich multi-ethnic heritage and advocate for its presentation and preservation. Their summer season of activity culminates in an outdoor Family Fun Day event, which celebrates the strong connection of the Guyanese diaspora with their homeland. 

BAC Event: “Dancing, Singing, and Gaffing: Celebrating Guyana’s Independence through Afro and Indo-Guyanese Folk and Traditional Arts”

September 4, 2016, 12pm - 5pm

BAC’s Folk Arts Tent will showcase the Indian and African origins in Guyanese culture with a program of storytelling, music, and dance. Rhythm Tolee will teach and showcase bhangra, a form of music and dance that originated in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. Guyanese cultural leaders Claire Goring and Rose October Edun will discuss the significance of Guyana’s 50th anniversary of independence. Winston “Jeggae” Hoppie will share Guyanese folktales and poetry, followed by a demonstration of the colorful pre-wedding Kwe Kwe ritual with Rose October Edun. Indo-Caribbean dancer Romanee Kalicharran will teach and perform Indian and Guyanese dance traditions in Kathak dance, the foundation of the Indo-Caribbean dance tradition.

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