Photo Credit: Kwaku Summer Festival| Facebook
Kwaku Festival: Amsterdam’s Summer-Long Fest Celebrating Black Culture
Amsterdam’s Kwaku Festival is one of the most exciting times in the city and is known as a summer staple. Held every year in Nelson Mandela park, it is held for consecutive weekends throughout the summer.
It’s marketed as a “multicultural fun event” that takes place in the Zuidoost community where fest-goers enjoy live music, dance, sports, and more. But the real reason why people come together is to celebrate the abolition of slavery in the Dutch Antilles and Suriname in 1863.
The thousands of people who worked on the plantations in the Dutch West Indies were finally released. The Dutch were reportedly among the last to abolish slavery, after Denmark in 1803, Britain in 1834, and France in 1848.
Kwaku Festival History
The Kwaku Summer Festival is one of the biggest and most popular festivals in Amsterdam, attracting around 300,000 visitors each year.
The festival (formerly Kwakoe) originally began as a small soccer tournament for youth, primarily those of Surinamese descent, in the Southeast neighborhood of Amsterdam, who could not go on a summer vacation.
Soon after, it became a big deal attracting soccer teams from all over the Netherlands, and became a tournament that not only fostered sportsmanship but community as players would share food.
In 1983, the event became a full-blown festival celebrating Surinamese culture.
“Under the inspiring leadership of Winston Kout, Kwakoe grew in the 1990s into the current mega happening that has become an integral part of the annual festive calendar,” the event’s website reads.
Kwaku Festival has become a beloved and lively celebration of art, food, sports, and culture, that now includes a diverse mix of ethnicities and backgrounds.
There are hundreds of vendors where fest-goers can indulge in the flavors of Suriname, Caribbean, African, and Creole cultures.
The Kwaku Festival program changes each year but what remains consistent are the concert stages, Caribbean market, and one of the most beloved events: the soccer tournament. Amateur teams of all ages compete against each other for the Kwaku Cup.
For more info on future events, check out the official webpage.