Harlem Week, now a reimagined 10-day festival with live and virtual events, is back and about to take off

Harlem Week
Harlem Week is back from Aug. 9 to Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023.
Jeff Bachner

The 49th annual Harlem Week, now a reimagined hybrid festival with virtual and live events, is back this year and about to take off celebrating the best of Harlem and its rich African American, African, Caribbean, Hispanic, and European history.

From Wednesday, Aug. 9 to Sunday, Aug. 20, Harlemites, New Yorkers, and people from around the globe can experience the magic that is Harlem.

Harlem Week organizers have built a series of events around this year’s theme “Inspiration, Impact, Legacy” as a nod to the past year of unprecedented challenges. Harlem Week 2023 seeks to uplift, direct, and encourage the Harlem community, as well as participants and attendees, as it has in the past 49 years.

Marko Nobles, executive director of Harlem Week, told amNewYork Metro that Harlem continues to be the epicenter of culture and style and that he is excited to share Harlem with the world through the festival’s virtual offerings.

“Harlem still has a role as the cultural mecca of the world,” Nobles said. “People will be able to hear about some of the developments and projects that are ongoing now, and those organizations that are leading the charge, not only with development in Harlem, but using models in Harlem to develop in other communities of color around the country.”

Events this year include a climate and environmental justice discussion, the Uptown Night Market, Harlem Summerstage, Senior Citizens Day, the Harlem Connection Radio Show, a 5K run and walk and children’s run, jazz on the Great Hill, an outdoor film festival, a jobs and career fair, and a youth conference and hackathon. 

Nobles said he is looking forward to the wealth of youth-centered events this year, including the conversation around social media and its impacts and the hackathon where young people will create solutions to problems.

“I’m looking forward to some of those conversations,” Nobles said. “Harlem continues continue to lead and of course, it’s always great to be able to enjoy the atmosphere.”

He also highlighted Harlem Week’s signature events such as the all-day “A Great Day in Harlem” with outdoor vendors and performances at the Ulysses S Grant National Memorial, and Harlem Day, scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 20 on 135th Street, where singer and actor Harry Belafonte, a Harlem native, and Tina Turner, the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, will be honored. 

Harlem Week was created in 1974 as Harlem Day, to celebrate and encourage the arts, culture, religion, business, entertainment, and sports in Harlem. Since then, Harlem Day has expanded from a month-long festival to its current 10-day live and virtual event. 

First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright shared her excitement about Harlem Week with amNewYork Metro.

“If there is any neighborhood that can blaze a path forward, set an example of the best of our collective selves, come together, and build one another up together – it’s Harlem,” Wright said. “Harlem Week is all about local organizations committing to working together towards a bright future for Harlem-nites while acknowledging our rich history. I look forward to seeing the rich culture displayed during the celebration to promote a city where we succeed and build back together.”

Read more: “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio Sparks Discussion