Summer’s here again, which means a plethora of opportunities to get out and get into something good. Whether you live in a major hub or a small town, when the weather breaks, there’s something for everyone to do. In case you need a few ideas, here’s a look at five upcoming summer festivals to whet your appetite for travel, music, books, and film.

1. Essence Music Festival
The most popular black music festival will return to New Orleans on the weekend of July 6-8. This year’s guests include Aretha Franklin, D’angelo, Marsha Ambrosious, Goapele, Fantasia, Eve, Estelle, The Robert Gl asper Experiment, and SWV. This is just a sampling of the action-packed weekend’s entertainment. Awkward Black Girl’s Issa Rae will be speaking. Super-fine actor DB Woodside will be in attendance. And gospel acts include Mary Mary, Fred Hammond, and Israel Houghton. Tickets are still available.

2. Montreal Jazz Festival
This Canadian festival has long provided a home for soul and jazz acts of note. This year’s talent includes Janelle Monae, Esperanza Spalding, Seal, and Norah Jones. In addition to an introduction to a host of new international music acts, you’d also get to experience the breathtaking sights in Montreal. The festival runs from June 28 to July 7. It combines free outdoor shows with ticketed concerts.

3. New York Summerstage
This is a bit of cheat; it isn’t a festival. It’s a summer concert series–one of the best in the country. This year, it will reunite Amel Larrieux and Bryce Wilson, who will perform as Groove Theory for the first time since the early aughts. Other performers include Tamia, the Res-Talib Kweli-fronted band Idle Warship, Robert Glasper Experiment, Bobby Womack, Goapele, and Eric Roberson. Check dates and times at the website above.

4. The Harlem Book Fair
This one -day event, which brings together some of the biggest names in black books, gets bigger and better ever year. Its panels are annually televised on C-SPAN. Its vendors are friendly and often provide you an audience with the writers of your favorite books. A mix of urban and contemporary lit, the Harlem Book Fair combines outdoor performances and sellers, with indoor workshops and speakers. This year’s event takes place on Saturday, July 21.

5. The American Black Film Festival
Looking for an excuse to jaunt off to Miami Beach this summer? Here’s one. The American Black Film Festival will be there during the weekend of June 20-23. Each year, it boasts the world premieres of many African American and world films. This year’s list of films includes Matthew Cherry’s buzz-w orthy feature, The Last Fall, Russ Parr’s church-set drama, The Undershepherd, starring Isaiah Washington, and The Dark Party, co-written and directed by Kadeem Hardison. For those interested in learning more about filmmaking, the festival offers crash courses in various movie-making processes.

Whatever your interests, start researching and planning now, and you’re sure to spend your summer months partying the nights away. Do you have plans to attend any of these events? Are you headed to another fun function you’d like others to know about?

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