A leading festival is supposed to speak for itself. Amsterdam Roots Festival does so in many languages, disciplines ​​and styles. It showcases global culture in the fascinating variety of music, dance, circus, theatre, spoken word and more; presenting artistic talent that works at the crossroads of tradition and modernism.

The Amsterdam Roots Festival is a festival with a long history of great artists, innovative partnerships and a constantly increasing number of visitors. In 20 years, the festival has become one of the most exciting music festivals in the Netherlands.

As a ‘festival of passionate music lovers’ the first Africa Roots Festival took place in the Melkweg in 1983. The term world music did not exist yet, but in small circles the word got out of exciting and very danceable African pop music.

Artists that draw an audience of millions in Africa slowly became familiar here: Fela Kuti, Franco, King Sunny Ade, Salif Keita, Manu Dibango, etc.

In 1987 the Amsterdam Roots Meeting’87 was part of ‘Amsterdam Cultural Capital’: a large-scale festival with music from all over the world in many locations. A new audience was won over: the immigrant population of the Netherlands. It became increasingly clear that elsewhere in the world new forms of popular music sprung up that were new to Western ears. This resulted in the first World Roots Festival, a voyage around the world in music.

Over ten years World Roots had various locations, including the Concertgebouw and Vondelpark, until in 1998 the programs of World Roots Festival and the Sugar & Spice program of the Holland Festival and the Tropeninstituut were fused together into the Amsterdam Roots Festival which was held yearly in the Oosterpark.