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Kwanzaa, a dynamic and culturally enriching seven-day celebration cherished by African Americans and those with African heritage worldwide, kicks off on Dec. 26 and continues through Jan. 1. This holiday, conceived by Dr. Maulana Karenga in the 1960s, encapsulates the spirit of unity, self-determination, and collective responsibility. Cities across the U.S. and beyond come alive with the infectious energy of Kwanzaa, illuminated by the warm glow of the Kinara candles, each representing a core principle. From lively community gatherings and traditional African music and dance performances to captivating art exhibitions and enlightening educational workshops, there’s an array of engaging activities to enjoy, and Hilton hotels near the season’s excitement.
Experience the vibrant fusion of culture and community in Detroit, home to one of the largest Kwanzaa celebrations in the U.S. The Motor City boasts the world’s largest Kinara – an impressive 30 feet tall – prominently displayed at Campus Martius Park in Downtown. This monumental celebration of African American life is a captivating addition to the park’s holiday landscape, where it proudly stands alongside a Christmas tree and menorah. For those looking to stay close to the festivities, The Godfrey Detroit, Curio Collection by Hilton, housed in the historic and lively Corktown neighborhood, is just a 4-minute drive from the park. Additionally, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, dedicated to preserving African American culture, is a must-visit destination during Kwanzaa, offering special events and exhibits that truly capture the essence of the celebration.
The Windy City hosts a myriad of events and activities to honor the meaningful holiday, including nightly Kinara lightings at Flossmoor Park and special events at prominent locations like the DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago Public Library, City Colleges of Chicago and Bronzeville Children’s Museum. For a family-friendly experience, head to Garfield Park, where you can enjoy a festival of art, music, and food. And don’t miss the fourth-annual production of “Merry Kwanzaa” at Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre in Evanston. Just a short walk from the theater, you’ll discover Hilton Garden Inn Chicago North Shore/Evanston, nestled in the heart of the Chicago North Shore District. This pet-friendly property offers a free area shuttle, complimentary Wi-Fi and a delicious cooked-to-order breakfast, ensuring you start your holiday festivities with a hearty meal and make the most of your Kwanzaa experience in Chicago.
Atlanta’s rich cultural heritage lends itself to a meaningful Kwanzaa holiday, from nightly Kinara lightings at local parks to special events at cultural institutions like the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, which hosts an annual Kwanzaa celebration. The city’s diverse neighborhoods, including West End and Sweet Auburn, also offer unique Kwanzaa events. After a day of exploration, unwind at Hilton Atlanta, located in Downtown and minutes from other Atlanta attractions like Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium and the city’s sporting arenas. Families can celebrate the season at Nikolai’s Roof, the iconic rooftop Hilton restaurant that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Atlanta skyline from its 30th-floor perch.
Philadelphia, a city steeped in history and culture, offers Kwanzaa celebrations that are a testament to the city’s diversity and community. From special events at the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University to Imhotep Institute Charter High School, host of Kwanzaa Cooperative’s 57th anniversary Kwanzaa Celebration, and from Center in the Park’s annual observance in Germantown to the African American Museum’s events honoring the spirit of Kwanzaa, the Greater Philadelphia area offers a wide array of opportunities to celebrate the principles of the holiday. Attend nightly Kinara lightings at Malcolm X Park, then relax at one of the welcoming Hilton Hotels in the Philadelphia region, like Hotel West & Main Conshohocken, Tapestry by Hilton, which breathes new life into a 146-year-old firehouse with its industrial yet upscale design that pays homage to the property’s history and origin as a firehouse. Its rooftop restaurant and bar, Hook & Ladder Sky Bar, is one of the city’s newest hotspots.
Explore the rich traditions of Kwanzaa through St. Louis’ special events and workshops offered at venues such as the Sheldon Concert Hall, the Luminary and the St. Louis Art Museum, which offers an annual event with art-making activities, special performances and self-guided tours. St. Louis’ diverse neighborhoods, including the Delmar Loop and Grand Center, embrace the warmth of community during Kwanzaa, and families will find nightly Kinara lightings at locations like the Missouri History Museum and the Griot Museum of Black History. Immerse in the city’s past with a stay at St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, a St. Louis icon since 1884. The modern-day former train station retains its elegant archways and décor and features a 3D light show, a 100-foot waterfall and other dramatic treats that add even more excitement to an eventful holiday visit.
The City of Angels offers a rich tapestry of cultural experiences, including nightly Kinara lightings at iconic locations like Leimert Park and the California African American Museum. Revelers can immerse in the cultural richness of the Museum of African American Art and the California Science Center through their special events, and join in dynamic community gatherings in neighborhoods like South L.A. and Crenshaw, the latter of which is home to the 48th annual KwanZaa Gwaride parade, kicking off the seven-day festival in grand style. The parade includes jazz, R&B, reggae, spoken word and African drumming performances that pay homage to ancestors and the principles of Kwanzaa. Just minutes from the parade route, Embassy Suites by Hilton Los Angeles International Airport South offers an excellent all-suites hotel option, perfect for accommodating families. Guests can enjoy complimentary breakfast with made-to-order omelets and evening receptions, creating a welcoming and social atmosphere to meet fellow celebrants and make your Kwanzaa experience special.