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A First Timer’s Guide to Curlfest NYC

By Rachel George

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If you’re a naturalista in NYC, Curlfest is one of the must-attend events of the summer. It’s the annual natural beauty celebration powered by Curly Girl Collective and is one of the most highly-anticipated events of the year. Last year, thousands, mostly women gathered at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, celebrating their kinky, curly, hair and its natural beauty.

At Curlfest you’ll find photobooths, panel discussions about self-love, live hair demonstrations from influencers, stylists, and brands like Shea Moisture, Cantu Beauty, Girl + Hair, Mielle Organic, Urban Skin Rx and more. Previous attendees are still gushing over Curvy Curly Conscious founder Shelah Marie and her now-fiance, rapper Ace Hood, dropping gems about black love at the empowerment chat.

In less than a week, you can expect to experience various shades of melanin, unique hairstyles, singing, and dancing in an oasis of sisterhood.

Since launching in 2014, the rapidly growing event has expanded to a much larger venue and added another event in Atlanta, another popular melanated city of hair. The love and support is genuine from the vendors and attendees, and the ambiance is filled with scents of coconut oil, shea butter, and aloe vera. I can’t wait to see what brands and photo booths attend this year.

If you’ll be attending Curlfest NYC for the first time this year, here’s a beginners guide to this natural hair expo.

Embrace Your Natural Hair

First things, first. What are you going to do with your hair? Hopefully, you scrolled through Pinterest or searched Instagram for #hairinspo. I created this flower-bed hairstyle from an idea I found on Instagram. I bought these small decorative white flowers from Michael’s for $5 and placed them around my Bantu knots with a twist out in the back.

Where to Stay

This year, Curflest has moved Randall’s Island Park near the East River, home of The Governor’s Ball summer concert. Just to give you an idea, it’s the center of East Harlem, South Bronx, Queens, and Astoria. Which means you’ll do plenty of walking. Your best bet would be to book an Airbnb or hotel nearby, or within walking distance.

Randall’s Island Park, NYC-USA

Transportation

By no means should you drive. Parking in New York City is already a struggle, so don’t even bother. Hop on the bus, train, or grab a Uber with your girls. Shoot, walk if you live close enough.

Get there EARLY!

I can’t stress how important it is to arrive as early as possible. Lines begin forming as early as 8 AM and will be extremely long for products, vendors, food, and even to get into the park. My friends and I waited almost two hours to get into Prospect Park, and we showed up at 12:30 PM. We still managed to get some of the free products and gifts offered, but once they run out that’s it. Being early also gets you an opportunity to pick a front-row spot on the lawn for the concerts and panels, so pack a blanket.

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Be comfortable, yet cute.

When deciding what to wear, there are a few things to take into consideration: weather, comfort, and style. Now’s the time to explore your creative side with wild colors, patterns, and standout accessories. I wore some gray buddies last year. This is definitely not the event for 6-inch heels, sorry ladies. Sneakers or sandals will do. But if you can handle it, pack an extra pair of shoes in a large tote bag, just in case.

Food

I’d advise adding a few water bottles and some snacks as well in that tote bag. It gets pretty hot in New York, especially in large crowds. We waited in line for almost 20 minutes at a food truck, only for them to tell us to come back in an hour to pick up our food. Never again. This year, I’ll be eating before and bringing a few snacks to keep me satisfied.

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Curlfest is on Saturday, July 27. Are you ready?

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