Brooklyn's Huge Outdoor African Market: Dance Africa Bazaar at BAM

Courtesy of BAM

This once-a-year event, held every May, is a huge three-day outdoor "market" that celebrates and showcases the material culture -- ok, the cool "stuff" -- of a wide range of African cultures and countries.

It's global. You can buy African cloth and clothing made in traditional African cotton material, musical instruments, jewelry, hats, music, instruments, body lotions, perfumes, music, foods and much more. According to BAM, "Over 200 vendors from around the world converge on the streets surrounding BAM, transforming the neighborhood into a global marketplace" selling a range of African, Caribbean, and African-American food, crafts, and fashion.

The DanceAfrica Bazaar is more than just a shopping opportunity!

It's a Memorable Experience

This annual outdoor market serves as a meeting place where friends gather; it feels more like a big party in a smallish city than a mall. It's relaxed, multiracial and multiethnic, proudly pan-African, fun--and often quite crowded. People aren't just shopping, in that focused, functional way one does in the supermarket--rather, they're having a good time. Friends greet each other. Vendors from out of town meet local family and colleagues here. Conversation, people-watching, and pleasure are the currency.

Guest artists roam around the marketplace, playing instruments or singing.

There are places for kids to play: you can find both face painting and crafts at the Children's Village.

This bazaar, sponsored by BAM, is part of the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Africa and its diaspora at the DanceAfrica  Festival. You can walk around the bazaar for free; there's no entrance fee. But to see any of the BAM shows in its various theaters, it's best to get your tickets in advance.

Dance Africa Bazaar At-A-Glance

  • When: Every Memorial Day weekend, a three-day affair. It runs from noon until 8 PM in the evening, and until about 10 PM on Saturday evening. 
  • Where: Near the Brooklyn Academy of Music in the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District, near BAM.
  • What to Eat: Enjoy African, Caribbean, and African-American food
  • What:  The outdoor bazaar is part of a larger DanceAfrica celebration held annually, that includes ticketed and free performances.
  • Admission fee? The bazaar is free.
  • Is it family friendly? Yes, there are family friendly performances, and inexpensive trinkets as well as more expensive items. Kids will enjoy eating food and taking in the festive atmosphere. 

Edited by Alison Lowenstein