I stated that I have been to all five of the previous Curlfest celebrations in my blog post, My Experience at Curlfest 2018. But, what made this Curlfest celebration different was Curly Girl Collective’s decision to move the festival to Manhattan’s Randall’s Island. This was a controversial decision because even though it benefitted the curly girls hailing from Harlem and the Bronx, it meant a longer commute for Brooklyn girls like me. Luckily getting there wasn’t a problem at all! After an hour train ride to the city (Curly Girl Collective advised attendees not to drive to Curlfest), I took a free Curlfest shuttle bus provided by the city that took us directly to Randall’s Island.
When I got to Randall’s Island, I immediately realized that it was a positive change from Prospect Park, since it was much more spacious than the Brooklyn park. They still did not scan tickets for entry this year (which was based on the security, not Curly Girl Collective) and we were able to get straight into the festival at 1:30 pm. Read on to find out more about my experience at Curlfest Weekend 2019!
Beauty Row- 4 out of 5 stars
Curlfest had many sponsors, including top brands such as Target Beauty, Deva Curl, and Shea Moisture. Some of the lines were too long or me to wait at (*ahem* Shea Moisture *ahem* Target), but their booths looked absolutely beautiful from what I saw. I was able to grab samples from brands such as Creme of Nature and Jamaican Mango and Lime and I spun the wheel from Primark and Black Radience to win some prizes! I also bought several natural hair products from Eden’s Body Works, including their deep conditioner, co-wash, and their mousse leave-in conditioner! Their super affordable products were selling for 4 for $20 at the festival!
Curlfest Marketplace- 5 out of 5 stars
While I did not purchase any of the products from any of the small businesses, it was fun to look around at all of the different trinkets, including the clothing, jewelry, and other accessories. Unlike the Beauty Row, lines were much shorter and we were able to communicate with the vendors about their products and even try on items to see if we liked them! The booths were like the Union Square, Columbus Circle, or Bryant Park Holiday Markets, except this was during the summer and everything was black-owned! I look forward to spending more time at these booths when I attend next year!
Empowerment Stage- N/A
Unfortunately, I did not get to visit any of the talks at Curlfest. Since there was so much to do and so many people at Curlfest, it was hard for me to keep track of everything that was going on at Curlfest and at what time. It would help if Curlfest had an app like POPSUGAR Play/Ground did so that I can create a schedule of what events I wanted to attend for the day in advance.
Main Stage- 5 out of 5 stars
We did not spend too much time at the main stage since it was 85 degrees outside and it was directly in front of the sun! But we did get to enjoy the music from a shaded area in the VIP section! The music was great and it would have kept us dancing all day, that is if it wasn’t so hot and there wasn’t already so much to do!
Eats and Treats- 4 out of 5 stars
I did not have much to review from since I took a picnic lunch from home after feeling hangry after Curlfest 2017 (after all, Curlfest was originally a picnic event!) However, my friend grabbed some ginger mocktails for us that were very good. Waiting in the food line took around 30 minutes, even in the VIP section. But we did go around 4 o’clock when most people were getting hungry and starting to stop for food. In the regular section, there were much more food options, including some food trucks. Unfortunately, I heard that there was a long wait, and some people even waited for one hour and 30 minutes for food alone. Therefore, I definitely recommend curlies to bring food from home or outside if they can. We were even able to relax on the hammock after having a picnic lunch.
Arts District- 5 out of 5 stars
This section was in a great picnic section of Randall’s Island, where they had more trees and open space. As usual, the pictures were beautiful and my friend and I just had to stop to take a look at the striking portraits. We weren’t there for the auction, but I would love to buy a picture from Curlfest one day!
Now onto tips for Curlfest 2020!
- Previously, my first advice was:
My advice is to get a free ticket, but if you can’t, just walk in and don’t bother buying a free ticket off someone. Come early and collect free samples from the booths, because the lines accumulate fast!
However, after Curly Girl Collective moved the festival to Randall’s Island, the whole game has changed. Even though they had a mishap with the ticket checking procedures, you cannot just walk into Randall’s Island anymore. Therefore, people who arrived early had to wait for hours to get into the festival. We arrived 1 hour and 30 minutes late and were able to get into right away. You should arrive a bit later so you don’t have to wait forever to get in if you are not worried about getting the gift bag. Even if you ordered a Platinum or Gold ticket, you are guaranteed to get a gift bag, even if they ran out at the festival, so you don’t have to worry about getting it right away. Also, this time around, the Beauty Row booths were stocked with samples, so you did not have to arrive too early to stock up on lots of free goodies!
2. Last years advice:
Bring your own blanket and/or fold-able chair to the park.
Unfortunately, you cannot bring a foldable chair to Randall’s Island. This came in handy for me when I went to Curlfest when I was seven months pregnant, but alas, it is no more. Fortunately, you can still bring a blanket for the grass. If you do not want to sit in the grass you can get a VIP ticket so you can sit on couches in a tented area or even relax on a colorful hammock.
3. My previous advice:
Bring your own food! I cannot emphasize this enough!
I still stand by this rule (see the review from Eats and Treats above)
4. Previous advice:
Come prepared for any weather!
I still stand by this rule. While last year it was cloudy and rainy at Curlfest, this Curlfest was 85 degrees high and the sun was beaming in my face! It turned out that we would also need an umbrella this year, just more of the parasol kind than the rain-shielding kind.
5. Previous advice:
Have fun! CurlFest is a festival dedicated to natural hair and black beauty with thousands of people coming out from all around the world. Relax on the grass or dance at the front near the stage, you wouldn’t leave in a bad mood.
Curlfest is a great festival whether you come with your friends, alone, or you come with your bae or your family. There are lots of people to meet at the festival and there are great vibes! Since it originated as a picnic dedicated to people with natural hair, the best part of the festival will always be looking around and seeing the true beauty in our natural hair and melinated skin. Come with the intention to relax and let loose and you will love this festival!
Curlfest Roller Set
Another thing that made Curlfest 2019 different is that it wasn’t over after Saturday. This time they had a whole weekend dedicated to natural hair and beauty. Curly Girl Collective teamed up to create an after-party that was dedicated to the retro past time, roller-skating, titled the pun intended Roller Set. I loved doing active sports, but the last time I went roller skating was a year and a half ago. I was definitely in, but I knew I was going to bust my butt sometime on the rink! Another great thing about Curlfest Roller Set is that it was back in their original location in Prospect Park. This time the event was at the Lakeside Roller and Ice Skating Rink.
I got there at 12:30 pm and they did not start the event as yet, so several people were waiting to get in. They opened up admission around 12:45 pm and there were not many people at the event as yet, so I was able to get my skates very quickly. Most people arrived later than 3:30 pm, so the line to rent skates and the skating rink filled up quickly then.
- Lockers were not included in admission and they were very expensive ($3 for a small locker and $8 for a large locker). I had to pay for two lockers since my first locker expired at 4 pm. Looking back, I should have used a fashionable fanny pack instead of my huge tote to prevent this additional expense.
- I should have brought flip flops to wear since the staff took your sneakers when you borrow their skates. There were some moments when I wanted to walk without my skates but still keep them for if I wanted to go on the rink later. Therefore, I had to do a lot of sitting down when I didn’t want to slip and slide around on my skates!
- It would have been nice if Curlfest Roller Set had better food options from African, West Indian, or Black American cuisines. Or some Mexican food and other street food would have been nice. The only food that was available was from the Lakeside Cafe, which only sold burgers, french fries, chicken tenders, and cold sandwiches. I ordered a falafel wrap, with mayo to replace the white sauce, but if I knew that the food options would be that limited, I would have eaten right before and after getting there.
And some perks:
- The DJs on the main stage were great as usual.
- Roller skating was fun, even though I was afraid to fall for the most part, so I stayed at the rail. If they have another roller skating party next year, I need to learn how to roller skate better before attending!
- The double dutch was a lot of fun to watch.
- There were lots of great photo opportunities.
- Creme of Nature was giving out free hair dyes in blonde, red, and black, which was a great surprise.
Thank you for reading about my busy Curlfest weekend! Share this post with friends who are planning to attend Curlfest next year and read on to find out more about natural hair and beauty events!
Talk to you next time!