It’s summer, and festivals are back just in time.

It’s been 14 months since Durhamites stood together to celebrate and dance at music festivals, but now Beats n Bars Festival is set to return to Downtown Durham on June 24-26, 2021—this time, for free.  

This year’s lineup includes music performances by Ali Muhammad, Kueen, Kaze, Shame Gang, and Burn Bright. There also will be an art walk, a freestyle event, and a set of events on wellness, mindfulness, and veganism. The festival also will feature a free “Wellness for the Culture” panel session.

Per usual, Beats n Bars will be a space to celebrate hip-hop culture, but in response to struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic, this year will also focus on mental health and community building and engagement.

Six months ago, Crystal Taylor, founder of the festival, was sure the event wouldn’t happen this year. Then after many conversations with new sponsor WUNC, possibilities opened up, and they recognized an opportunity to host a weekend that celebrates hip hop and its intersections with wellness and health.

“I am beyond grateful and blessed to be able to do this and provide this for the community. It just became a no-brainer to make this a place for free minds and to come back together and enjoy the weather and enjoy being alive,” she said. 

Unlike previous years, Beats n Bars 2021 will be free for attendees. Taylor’s own experiences struggling throughout the pandemic drove her decision.

“We’re all trying to take care of each other and pay these bills and do that thing. I couldn’t even fathom asking people to pay,” she said. “We just need our community to know that this is us having a party.”

Other festivals have begun to release their 2021 lineups, too, including Hopscotch and World of Bluegrass

The lineup and tickets for the Beats n Bars Festival can be found on their website.

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