Harambee Pasadia, a four-day celebration of cultural diversity, returns to County Durham this spring and Dave Horsley discovers it’s bigger than ever

HARAMBEE? in Swahili means "Let’s get together" and Pasadia in Spanish means "to spend the day". Put the two together and you get a music and dance-themed festival that is a colourful celebration of the diversity of cultures.

Harambee Pasadia is a four-day family camping extravaganza which hosts world-renowned performers of Afro-beat, jazz, reggae, funk, Latin music and fusions of music found in the African diaspora.

It is also an opportunity to divulge in fantastic African, Latin and Asian food, with a licensed bar available on site.

This year's event, the fifth, takes place from Friday, May 26, to Monday, May 29, at The Hub, in Barnard Castle.

Now in its fifth year, Harambee Pasadia includes performances by a multitude of artists, including Sekou Keita, Black Voices, Hannabiell & Midnight Blue, Ahjah UK, Backyard Rhythm Orchestra, while the Afro Fusion Ceilidh Band will be offering a range of engaging and interactive workshops.

Also on the festival's remarkably diverse menu is West African drumming, taught by djembe master Sekou Keita, and salsa dancing provided by Yersin Rivas, two of the most sought after instructors in the UK; as well as kuduro, African American step dancing, samba drumming, hip hop dancing, Afro groove, tabla drumming, yoga, zumba, capoeira and much more.

There will even be a wellbeing area offering massage therapy, hair braiding and gong baths, with activities such as BMX, high ropes, canoeing, paddle boarding and wood carving also on offer.

Music is very much at the heart of Harambee Pasadia, and DJs include Volta 45, ZerodB, Hot Sauce, Tom Caulker, Lalya Gaye, and Adam Bhatti Powered by Common Unity Soundsystem.

This Afro-fusion festival was founded and organised collectively by two Newcastle-based musicians, Hannabiell Sanders and Yilis del Carmen Suriel.

Hannabiell is the composer and director for Hannabiell & Midnight Blue and Ladies of Midnight Blue, both ensembles who perform regularly around the UK and abroad. Hannabiell & Midnight Blue fuse together Afro-Caribbean and Latin percussion, jazz, afro-beat, funk and reggae which creates a sound they call Afro psychedelic funk.

Hannabiell says: "The vision of the festival is to create a community and network of artists, thinkers, activists, community leaders and volunteers that can come together, inspire one another and work together in a sustainable way.

"The festival aims to encourage unity and bring people from diverse backgrounds together, bridging the culture gap through performances, workshops and the shared experience of Afro-fusion music and dance."

The festival is staged in partnership with Crossings, TCR Hub, Gateway Studio, Jack Drum Arts, World Headquarters, Inner Power Yoga, Newcastle University, and Freedom City 2017.

This year, it will have a new space called Speakers’ Corner, where organisers will host a series of conversation, presentation and life skills building activities based around social justice and unity.

The festival is inclusive and family-friendly and all ages are invited to try out our activities. Under-fives go free.

  • Harambee Pasadia, The Hub, Barnard Castle, County Durham. From 5pm on Friday, May 26, to 11am on Monday, May 29. Tickets from harambeepasadia.com/tickets.html or for for more information, see Facebook or Twitter.
  • If you would like to experience a taste of what Harambee Pasadia has to offer, a series of events and workshop sessions are planned prior to the festival:
  • March 25: (11am, £15) Harambee Pasadia yoga and drumming (Ladies of Midnight Blue), Gateway Studios, Trinity Centre, High Street, Gateshead;
  • March 29: (Preview 5-7pm, free) Harambee Pasadia Through the Years photo exhibit opening, The Witham, Barnard Castle. Exhibition dates March 30-April 22, 10am-4pm;
  • April 23: (11am, £15) yoga and drumming (Ladies of Midnight Blue), North Wing, Stepney Road, Newcastle;
  • May 6: (11pm-4am, £6 before midnight), Harambee Pasadia Festival launch party featuring Hot Sauce, World Headquarters, Curtis Mayfield House, Carliol Square, Newcastle;
  • May 13: (11am, £15) yoga & drumming (Ladies of Midnight Blue), Northern Stage, Barras Bridge, Newcastle.