Amsterdam Roots Festival – meet the best of the non-West

Amsterdam Roots Festival – meet the best of the non-West

Amsterdam Roots Festival has no doubt become a trademark on its own. Attracting over 50,000 enthusiasts of less-commercial acts from around the whole globe each year, it certainly is a nice event to attend if you’re about to enjoy a short stay Amsterdam in early summer.

Back to the roots

Amsterdam Roots Festival has its – pardon the pun – roots in the 1980s, as it started in 1983 under the name of Africa Roots Festival held back then in the famous Melkweg. Over three decades have passed since that time, and this special event has changed not only its name, but also the range of attractions on offer. Step by step, it brought the fascinating diversity of world and roots music from countries like Mali, Tunisia, Congo, South Korea, Zimbabwe, or Mexico (to name just a few), as well as the whole spectrum of other forms of non-Western culture, including food, clothing, decorative jewelry or handicraft items to the eyes and ears of Westerners hungry for something new, authentic, original, and exotic. Today, this tradition continues, and the event has grown in significance and popularity up to the point where it started being called as ‘the festival of inspired devotees’. There surely must be a good reason to take part in the festival – after all, the recent number of 60,000 visitors (making the event the largest of this type in the whole Netherlands) speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Pon de programme

Amsterdam Roots Festival is held once a year, and the whole festival is actually a few-day celebration consisting of around 60 concerts taking place in various locations around Amsterdam – including a ‘closing’ open-air event; in the past it used to be organized in Oosterpark, and was free of charge, but now it moved to the Java Island area, and the price of the ticket for the closing event (called Roots Open Air, actually) is less than EUR 10 (it was EUR 7,50 in 2013). If you’re not a particular enthusiast of such kind of entertainment, the price is surely attractive enough to check it out even just out of pure interest. Who knows – maybe you’ll join the ranks of ‘devotees’ the next year?

So, what’s there to see, do, and hear? Well, quite a lot, to be honest! First of all, you’ll have a great opportunity to experience some fine performances by many amazing international acts during the ‘Roots Indoor’ period taking the first couple of days of the event; this is also a great occasion to visit such venues as the legendary Melkweg, Bimhuis, or Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ.

The grand finale in the form of Roots Open Air day is totally action-packed with live concerts available on several stages, and offers also a range of exotic artefacts sold on the makeshift bazaar, dance and music workshops, as well as fun zones for children. The festival’s line-up to date has seen names like Fela Kuti, King Sunny Adé, Salif Keita, Franco, or Manu Dibango, to name just a few, so arrive to Amsterdam and discover the ‘organic’ side of music and world culture!

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