Clash Magazine labelled Africa Oyé as perhaps Britain’s best free festival. Who could say no to that? The third weekend of June sees the beautiful Sefton Park hosting an enormous celebration of African culture, by far the biggest event of its kind in the UK. Since its modest beginnings in 1992, the festival has drawn in massive crowds of up to 80,000 people. Now in its 24th year, Africa Oyé is bigger and better than ever.
Regardless of your background, Africa Oyé offers a glimpse into rich and unfamiliar cultures with performers from all across the world. There’s both history and progress to witness in the form of Sona Jobarteh, a Kora virtuoso who is modernising this typically male-dominated tradition. Her compositions are rhythmically hypnotic and her vocals are breath-taking. It’s the perfect opportunity to experience the changing music of West Africa. Africa Oyé also features artists from the Caribbean, with the likes of singer songwriter Randy Valentine. 2013 saw him debut one of the biggest ever tours of any reggae artist. His second EP Still Pushing was released in 2015, to immediate acclaim. The main stage will also host tsapiky pioneer Damily, Mbongwana Star, Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band, and many more.
The music is supplemented by the excellent Oyé village. It’s an ever-growing tradition for the festival, featuring stalls selling food and drink, crafts, accessories, and clothes from across the globe. In Trenchtown you’ll see a selection of Afro-centric DJs as well as Liverpool’s popular Ragga’s Cuisine serving top Caribbean delicacies. Their jerk chicken alone is worth the trip to Sefton Park.
Africa Oyé is a family friendly event with activities for children from bouncy castles to face painting. The atmosphere is overwhelmingly welcoming. It’s the perfect chance to share your heritage, or to celebrate multi-culturalism in a city renowned for its cultural history.
There is no camping available, but Sefton Park is a mere 10-minute taxi ride from the Megabus stop at Liverpool ONE.
Sefton Park, Liverpool // 18-19th June 2016
Edinburgh // 15-24th July 2016
Somerset House, London // 7-17th July 2016
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