About Roots

Amsterdam Roots looks at the traditions and developments from all over the world; from far but also close to home. The Netherlands is buzzing with talent. A new generation is presenting itself to those for whom it is self-evident to have roots in different places and to incorporate their roots in their art. As the writer Taiye Selasi expresses it, herself with Ghanaian, British, Nigerian and American roots: "Don't ask where I'm from, ask where I'm local".

We proudly present a wide variety of artists, who move freely in the arts, are united by connecting influences and feel at home at Amsterdam Roots Festival.

The festival programme is made possible in collaboration with many partners, including Pakhuis de Zwijger, Bimhuis and Hotel Arena. A new look reinforces the new direction of Amsterdam Roots. Artist and designer Michiel Schuurman, known for his collaboration with Vlisco and whose work is on display in the Stedelijk Museum, has designed a new design for Roots.

We would like to take you into this intercultural world of music, theatre, spoken word, film, talks, storytelling and everything in between.


Amsterdam Roots Festival is a festival with a long history of great artists, innovative collaborations and a culturally diverse audience from all over the world. In 38 years time, the festival in its various manifestations has grown into one of the most fascinating music festivals in the Netherlands.
As a festival of passionate enthusiasts, the first Africa Roots Festival in the Melkweg was launched in 1983. The term 'world music' did not yet exist, but rumours about exciting and highly danceable African pop music were circulating in small circles.

Names of musicians slowly but surely acquired a familiar sound: Fela Kuti, Franco, King Sunny Adé, Salif Keita, Manu Dibango... Artists who attract millions of people to Africa.

As part of Amsterdam Cultural Capital in 1987, the Amsterdam Roots Meeting '87 took place: a large-scale festival with music from all corners of the world in many locations. This also reached a new audience group: the immigrant inhabitants of the Netherlands. It became increasingly clear that elsewhere in the world popular music styles were flourishing with new music for western ears. This gave rise to the first World Roots Festival: a musical journey around the world through the most diverse cultures and styles.

But times have changed: while international programming is still an important part of the festival, introducing unknown styles and artists is no longer a top priority. We no longer focus on presenting distant cultures, but take artistic developments in relation to roots and cultural identity as a starting point. The artist and his personal story are central to the culture he or she represents. This creates space to give the recent, rich developments of artists in the Netherlands an important place in the program.