How to Celebrate Kwanzaa This Year: For Kids and Families


Kwanzaa was created in 1966 for the purpose of bringing African Americans together as a community. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. The creator of Kwanzaa, Dr. Maulana Karenga, combined several harvest celebrations to form the basis of Kwanzaa, and the whole meaning is centered around community and togetherness. Families celebrate Kwanzaa in their own ways, but often include similar activities involving songs, dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading and a very large traditional meal. Scroll through our curated Kwanzaa celebrations to honor this beautiful holiday with your family!

Psst…want to plan a holiday lights night with the family? Check out: Where To See Holiday Lights in NYC

Attend Virtual Celebrations

Kwanzaa Fest Brooklyn

The mission of Kwanzaa Fest Brooklyn is to unite and bring people together in love and fellowship. This year, they will be celebrating virtually on a Zoom conference call from Dec. 26-30. There will be panel discussions relating to topics like “The State of the Black Family” and “The Role of Creativity in Liberation,” as well as vendors and a DJ! This is a great opportunity for the kids to learn about Black culture and the true meaning of Kwanzaa.

Apollo Theater Kwanzaa

Abdel R. Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre will be featured in this online experience! Since 2006, the Apollo Theater has celebrated Kwanzaa with culture, tradition, ritual and community in New York and around the country. Join them on December 27th at 7 pm and “exhale.” Register online and donate! 

Kwanzaa 2020 by Kofago Dance

Discover the power of dance and performing arts in the Kwanzaa 2020 celebration on Dec.20 and 6 pm! It is presented by Kofago Dance Ensemble, which exists at the nexus of African dance traditions and the Black experience in America. These upbeat performances will have the whole family on their feet!

Parkchester’s Annual Celebration of Kwanzaa

Since 2009, Parkchester has “Created Unity in the Community” with its Kwanzaa celebrations. This year, the program will celebrate the first principle of Unity, which is Umoja: “To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.” The celebration will be parallel to African culture and traditions through the practice of the Nguzo Saba, seven principles, artistic performers, and vendors to reaffirm humanitarian values and dignity to the community. Join them on Dec. 26 from 4-8 pm on Zoom or Youtube and Facebook Live! 

Learn the Culture

Funiki Jam Classes

Every week is a new globe-spanning musical adventure with a dance-along, sing-along, play-along program that can spark a lifelong interest in music and develop social cognitive and physical skills! Classes are for ages as young as three months old to five years old, with parental attendance, of course. Both online and in-person options are available! 

Brooklyn Children’s Museum Classes

Interactive programs taking place during each Play Session offer the opportunity to learn African dance, play the djembe drum, hear folktales of the African diaspora, create Zawadi gifts for family and friends, and explore Kwanzaa’s seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, faith, and creativity. Join in on Dec. 26 or 27 to be a part of all of the fun!

Cook Festive Dishes

Curried Sweet Potato Puree

This creamy side dish is sure to be a hit for the entire family! You can even make it dairy-free by using almond milk. Visit the link for ingredient and recipe info!

Collard Greens

Kids who are normally turned off by anything green may want to change their minds about this dish! This recipe can be altered to your family’s liking and may soon become a new favorite. 

Individual Corn Spoon Breads

These fluffy spoon breads offer a hint of kick, and make the perfect side dish or left-over breakfast snack!

Take a look at these Kwanzaa recipes for more delish dishes!

Decorate for Kwanzaa

Modern Kinara

Lighting the kinara is one of Kwanzaa’s most symbolic rituals. Gather the kids to help create this modern version that adds a colorful centerpiece to the Kwanzaa table with all of those delicious dishes!

Corn Husk Vases

Incorporate a powerful symbol of Kwanzaa into your home holiday decorations with these corn husk vases! Corn traditionally pays tribute to the circle of life in Kwanzaa celebrations, and these vases are a unique way to pass along this custom.

Unity Cup

Pass along a special tradition by involving young and old in crafting a custom unity cup! Visit the link for more info! 


Shop Black

Cooperative economics are a crucial part of Kwanzaa, and supporting Black-owned businesses is a great way to honor that custom. These businesses range from restaurants to hand-made gifts and decor! There is no doubt that you’ll find something for everyone in the family. 

Relevant Directory Listings

See More

WCS Education - Wildlife Conservation Society

<p><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: 13.3333px;">Explore nature, learn about the planet, and get close to animals—all in New York City! WCS zoo and aquarium day camps are for every young adventurer, from toddlers to teens. Campers experience hands-on learning, from STEAM classrooms and animal exhibits to nature trails and the beach. Recognized as industry leaders, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Education Department was the first of its kind to offer zoo camps and continues to provide award-winning programming. Visit to explore summer camps at the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and New York Aquarium!</span></span></p>

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

<p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Arial;" data-sheets-value="{" data-sheets-userformat="{">Looking for something to do with the kids in New York City that is fun, exciting, and educational? The Intrepid Museum offers family-friendly activities and programs all year long that keep children engaged, entertained, and curious about history and science. Fun rain or shine, the Museum offers both indoor and outdoor interactive exhibits and activities. With so many things to do and see, you’ll never hear “I’m bored,” when you climb aboard Intrepid. A non-profit, educational institution featuring the legendary aircraft carrier Intrepid, the space shuttle Enterprise, the world’s fastest jets and a guided missile submarine.<br /></span></p>

Brooklyn Robot Foundry - Virtual Classes

<p><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: small; background-color: #ffffff;">Brooklyn Robot Foundry offers super fun online robot-building classes for children 2-13 years old!</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: small; background-color: #ffffff;">  </span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: small; background-color: #ffffff;">Each week, students are introduced to new engineering concepts and components while building that day’s robot in their own “workshop”.</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: small; background-color: #ffffff;">  </span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: small; background-color: #ffffff;">All classes maintain a very low student-to-teacher ratio, allowing for plenty of individualized instruction and socializing. The supplies are shipped in advance and classes are led by amazing instructors, taking all the pressure off parents.</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: small; background-color: #ffffff;">  </span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: small; background-color: #ffffff;">The Foundry’s main focus however, is that kids have fun, get creative, and enjoy being part of this STEAM-loving community!</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: small; background-color: #ffffff;"> </span></p>