Pinkster festival returns to Hudson Valley to

A drummer, banjo player and a violinist at Pinkster on Academy Green.

The Pinkster festival will return this week to Ulster County for its second year, following its successful debut in 2022. The event celebrates African culture with a multi-day array of special events spread out across seven venues in and around Ulster County.

Founder Greer Smith explained: “Pinkster: Joy Is An Act of Resistance illustrates what is central to the identity of the people of New York State and the shared heritage that informs America today. In this program, joy translates into spirit – the spirit of joy that sustained enslaved people in the face of extreme hardship. Rooted in both the African and Dutch experiences of the 17th century, Pinkster belongs to us all.”

Pinkster is the oldest African American holiday in the United States and has a rich history that predates Juneteenth. Brought to North America by Dutch colonists, this festive religious celebration thrived in the Mid-Hudson Valley region. Enslaved Africans from areas such as the Hudson Valley, northern New Jersey, Long Island, and Brooklyn participated in this rare period of temporary freedom to congregate, connect and celebrate their heritage. Over time, Pinkster came to be seen as an African-American holiday. And while Pinkster has been celebrated for centuries, recent years have witnessed a renewed interest and growing popularity in this culturally significant holiday.

Taking place from May 27 to June 4, Pinkster 2023, organized by TRANSART (a community-building organization), seeks to revive and reimagine the historical Pinkster celebration. For complete information and a full schedule, visit transartinc.org/pinkster. Here’s a sample of the programming:


Pinkster Sunday at Old Dutch Church. Kick off the Pinkster celebrations with a performance by the Hudson Valley Gospel Fest Choir on Sun, May 28 at Old Dutch Church.

Africana Soundscape: Experience Congolese dance by Fusha Dance Company. Sat., June 3 at Walkway Over the Hudson in Highland.

Speakers & Exhibitions

Africans in America and Antiquity Exhibition. Explore the history and culture of African descendants in the Mid-Hudson Valley at the Matthewis Persen House from Sat, May 27 to Sun, October 29.

A One-on-One with Choreographer Jénel Stevens. Meet celebrated fight choreographer Jénel Stevens and hear about her experiences in the film industry on Wed, May 31 at Rosendale Theater. The talk will be followed by a screening of The Woman King, in which Stevens is a stunt double.

Pinkster Flowers: Beautifying the Kingston Community. Witness the beautification of the Kingston community with azaleas, the official Pinkster flower, from Wed, May 31 to Sun, June 4.

Honoring Truth: Exploring Pinkster and Afro-Dutch Liberty. Join Margaret Washington, Ph.D. and historian Lavada Nahon for a conversation about Sojourner Truth’s America and Afro-Dutch Liberty on Sun., June 4 at Old Dutch Church.


Free Community Film Screening of Black Panther. Enjoy an outdoor screening of the blockbuster film Black Panther on Sat., May 27 at 7pm, preceded by performances by Maxwell Kofi Donker and Sakofa Drum and Dance at Academy Green Park.

Talkbacks with Filmmaker Yoruba Richen. Engage in discussions with filmmaker Yoruba Richen after the screening of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks on Tue, May 30 at Old Dutch Church, 6:30pm.

Talkback with Producer Keith Beauchamp. Participate in a talkback with producer Keith Beauchamp following the screening of Till on Thursday, June 1 at Shadowland Studio.


Pinkster Celebration: Day Party and Market. Indulge in food tastings, demonstrations, and a variety of vendors featuring culturally relevant merchandise at The Senate House on Sunday, June 4, from 12pm-5pm. Live performances will be provided by DJ Stormin Norman, Hudson Valley Gospel Fest Choir, and BombaYO, a Puerto Rican song, percussion and dance group.