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Black Arts and Culture

May 27-29: Annual Umoja Festival Brings African Culture To Portsmouth

The City of Portsmouth is proud to host the 26th Annual Umoja Festival at the Portsmouth Pavilion and Festival Park Memorial Day weekend, May 27-29. The free festival will kick off Friday evening with a drum call and ceremonial procession. Afterwards, as dictated by African tradition, the event will be blessed by elder members of the Portsmouth community. Starting at 6:15 p.m. on Friday, music will fill the night air featuring Blaque Velvet, Rajazz, and Strictly Bizzness.

The free live music will continue on Saturday starting at noon. Visitors will also be able to step back in history by taking a Heritage Tour of The Emanuel A.M.E. Church which was a pivotal stop on the Underground Railroad. Take a guided tour to learn the stories of those who escaped to freedom. Tours are free and run at noon and 2 p.m. The Children’s Corner will come alive from noon to 5 p.m. with activities for even the youngest family members, including face painting, bounce houses, games, Home Depot® workshops, arts and crafts, and Gamerbus.
On Saturday night KEM and Mint Condition will take the Portsmouth Pavilion stage. While the rest of the weekend’s events are free, the concert on Saturday night is not and requires ticket purchase.

The excitement peaks when the festival swings into its third and final day. Spirits will soar on “Unity Sunday” as Eric Tayler begins with his violin at 2 p.m. Phalishia Johnson, Jo’sef Haynes and Unified, Ma Yancey & One Accord, Anthony Mcgahee & Praise Motivated, and Desmond Harrison raise hands and voices to the Lord. Children’s actives will resume in the afternoon and visitors will once again be able to take a Heritage Tour of the past, this time to the Portsmouth Community Colored Library Museum, located off site. In the evening national gospel recording artists Patrick Riddick & D’vyne Worship will close out the festival.

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