COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A festival celebrating Black heritage is kicking off in Columbus this week, with live performances, panels, networking opportunities, and more.

(Courtesy Photo/Black History Festival)

The Black History Festival begins Wednesday and runs through Saturday at Downtown’s Renaissance Hotel, 50 N. Third St. This week’s event marks the second Black History Festival after the first was hosted in Washington D.C. last year. Admission is free.

Stephen Selasie, festival founder and president of the Bureau for International Development Exchanges and Commerce, said the festival aims to celebrate the strong ties between the U.S. and the African Union member states.

“This is a novel opportunity to strengthen existing ties between these bilateral partners and inspire Black youth to build bridges and align interests,” Selasie said.

The four-day event is featuring more than a dozen speakers in trade, technology, media arts, culture and more. Yaw Osafo Maafo, a senior presidential advisor to the Ghanaian president, is scheduled to speak along with the mayor of the capital city of Ghana, Elizabeth Sackey.

Rounding out the festival is a series of excursions, live performances, a “Made in Africa” expo, and the Black History Maker’s Gala Night. View the festival’s full schedule here.

The festival is one of several events celebrating Black History Month in central Ohio, including “The Tea Room” this Saturday at the Ohio History Center and The 45th African American Heritage Festival at the Ohio State University kicking on Feb. 24. View more Black History Month events here.