Celebrate Kwanzaa In Person and Online at These Events Across North Carolina

Families have been celebrating Kwanzaa since 1966, when Dr. Maulana Karenga introduced the amalgamation of East and West African traditions to help Black people reconnect to their African heritage. (Hill Street Studios/Getty Images)

By Emiene Wright

December 27, 2021

Take time during this weeklong holiday to reconnect to African culture with events around the state.

Kwanzaa is here, and whether you’ve commemorated the weeklong African-American holiday your entire life or are just learning the Seven Principles, you can take part in this celebration of African heritage that takes place from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. 

Kwanzaa was first introduced to the United States in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, who drew on traditions from across Africa since, due to the horrors of enslavement, most African Americans cannot trace their heritage to one country. The observance is not religious, but rather focused on reconnecting African Americans to traditional African cultural ideals. It’s a week of recommitment and celebration.

Each day of the week from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 focuses on a different aspect of the Nguzo Saba, the guiding principles that build strong individuals, families and communities. At sundown, families and friends discuss the day’s principle and light one of seven green, black, and red candles on the kinara, or candle holder. Children receive small gifts that encourage their talents or interests, and on the final day a feast, karamu, is held. 

Across North Carolina, virtual and in-person events are taking place, and we’ve compiled a list below. We encourage you to mask up at any in-person events. 

Day 1, Umoja (Unity) on Dec. 26

Kwanzaa Marketplace, West Complex

Outdoor event with vendors and food trucks. Masks and social distancing encouraged; hand sanitizer available.

1600 W. Trade St., Charlotte

11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Hayti Legacy Kwanzaa Celebration

Hayti Heritage Center

804 Old Fayetteville St., Durham

12 – 4 p.m.

Kwanzaa Charlotte’s online program for Umoja – Unity

YouTube, 7 p.m.

Day 2, Kujichagulia (Self-determination) on Dec. 27

Self-Determination Seminar (Advance registration required)

Creative Space Station

A series of speakers talking about self-determination and other topics; light refreshments served.

555 Fayetteville St., Raleigh

2 – 5 p.m.

Kwanzaa Charlotte’s online program for Kujichagulia – Self-Determination

YouTube, 7 p.m.

Day 3, Ujima (Collective work and responsibility) on Dec. 28

Kwanzaa Night 3 – Ujima

Modern Black Mommy broadcaster and author Chanda Branch of Raleigh explains in this 2020 video how to practice collective work and reinforce communal accountability, as well as how to be a strong ally.


Day 4, Ujamaa (Cooperative economics) on Dec. 29

Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture

A candle-making workshop, an African dance class, a local artisan marketplace and a session about the history of Kwanzaa will be featured at this free event.

551 S. Tryon St, Charlotte

6 – 9 p.m. 

Matthews Community Center

Stories, dances, and songs, plus an overview of Kwanzaa traditions and rituals. Masks are required for the duration of the event. 

100 E. McDowell St., Matthews

7 – 8 p.m.

Day 5, Nia (Purpose) on Dec. 30

Cary Arts Center

Ujima Group Inc.’s 27th Annual Kwanzaa Celebration

This partnership with the town of Cary will have storytelling, a traditional Kwanzaa ceremony, dance and art. 

101 Dry Ave., Cary

12 – 3 p.m. 

A Celebration of Nia

Brown & Douglas Neighborhood Center

4725 Indiana Ave., Winston-Salem

6 p.m. 

Day 6, Kuumba (Creativity) on Dec. 31

Rochelle Middle School

Kwanzaa Celebration & Vendor Fair

301 N Rochelle Blvd., Kinston

12 – 4 p.m.

Day 7, Imani (Faith) on Jan. 1 

Durham Armory

African American Dance Ensemble’s Kwanzaa Fest: Stronger Together

212 Foster St., Durham

11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Kwanzaa Charlotte’s online program for Imani – Faith

YouTube, 7 p.m. 


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