The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) has celebrated its Kwanzaa Family Festival for more than a decade, and this year it returns as an in-person event!

Each activity and event at the festival on Dec. 17 will embody one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, meaning your family will have a full day of learning, crafting, dancing, drumming, shopping and fun! There will be music classes, face painting and storytelling. A Kwanzaa candle-lighting ceremony and a Vibunzi — a tradition of honoring young people with an ear of corn (or in this case, a slice of cornbread) to represent the hope for the future they bring — will be a highlight of the day.


In addition, the annual Kwanzaa Artisan Marketplace featuring local crafters, artists and merchants will fill both the Prudential Lobby and the hallways outside Prudential Hall’s First and Second tier entrances all weekend. Stop by during the festival, or it will be open Friday night from 7-11 pm and Sunday from 2-6 pm before and after the scheduled show performances.

Plus, drop off a donation of a coat or toy for the children of the community.

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by activist and author Maulana Karenga to offer people of African heritage a holiday that celebrates their culture. There are seven days dedicated to seven principles, also known as the Nguzo Saba. The Kwanzaa principles are Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).

Registration for the Family Festival on Dec. 17 opens at 9 am in person, or you can pre-register online. Activities continue from 10 am – 2 pm. The marketplace is open from 10 am – 10 pm. See the complete schedule to plan your day. All activities are free to attend.

NJPAC is located at 1 Center St., Newark.