How To Attend a Gospel Mass in Harlem

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On your way to New York? You absolutely must visit Harlem with its dynamic churches and all-around richness that permeates through several domains: Music- with the blossoming of the jazz genre, its extraordinary musicians and legendary nightclubs; Architecture- with some 400 churches and fascinating streets with stretches of brightly coloured residences; Street art- with large and spectacular wall murals; Soul food– an African-American culinary tradition to discover its famous fried chicken and unlimited buffet brunches…. And especially, nothing says Harlem like Gospel Music, the symbol of fight against slavery, with religious songs powerfully sung by remarkable choirs. Here are our best tips for attending a Gospel service in Harlem while discovering all the richness and beauty of a historic neighborhood, full of pride, emotion, and culture.

Harlem, the cradle of African-American culture and music

Just after Central Park, in north Manhattan, is where you find beautiful Harlem, a large quarter entirely apart from the city, which holds a significant role in the history of world-famous New York City. Particularly during the historical period in American history, “The Harlem Renaissance“, of the 1920’s, a huge turning point took place in black American literature, arts, and especially music. After that, another surge in activity took hold of the neighborhood: the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and ’60s with political figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Adam Clayton Powell Jr., and Malcolm X, where Harlem saw some very dark and difficult times. Now decades later we can still see the community’s continual vibrant energy, its hope in a better future, and all its efforts of restructuring and reforming this cultural epicenter Harlem has been since the days of those two world-changing social movements.

Photo: Harlem Spirituals

Music, omnipresent in Harlem, made it one of the most important places for jazz throughout the world. This genre of music was at its height with mystical venues such as The Apollo Theater, the temple of jazz, Minton’s Playhouse, Small’s Paradise, and The Cotton Club, where the biggest artists performed, like Duke Ellington and his ‘big band’ among many others. Decades later, the neighborhood would also welcome the biggest names in soul and African American pop music, notably Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.

Harlem, synonymous with Gospel, but not only that…

People almost always associate Harlem with Gospel Music. And for good reason because it is inside the smaller and numerous churches of Harlem that we can listen to, follow, and participate in a real Gospel mass with a well-known gospel choir and soul-stirring concert. You are cordially invited to express yourself by singing and dancing and enjoying yourself among the local churchgoers and singers who share with us this unique moment. Let yourself be taken away by the beauty of powerful songs sung by a well-versed and of course passionate choir filled with dynamic, strong voices. Come and experience for yourself a truly magical moment in this booming neighborhood so marked with rich cultural traditions and community.

Photo: Harlem Spirituals

Harlem, however, isn’t just about Gospel- and what a pity it would be to limit it just to that! Considered a ghetto in previous decades, Harlem has totally transformed into the safe, lively, dynamic, and residential neighborhood it is today, with specific local architecture including charming churches built at the turn of the 20th century; streets lined with famous brownstones, parks, and a multitude of restaurants for tasting the flavors of African-American cuisine, the famous Soul Food, a delightful authentic experience, definitely not to miss!

Harlem & Gospel, an unedited experience with Harlem Spirituals!

We offer many options to assist you in catching an excellent, authentic Gospel performance. Our tours in English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian, accompanied by our guides, who are certified and awarded with the 2018 Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence, will not only get you participating in a local Gospel mass, but will also lead you on a full morning of discovering the history and richness of this quarter, a real emblem of African-American culture. Accompanied by your guide, you’ll crisscross Harlem, learn about its past, and attend an authentic Gospel mass in a local church among its local congregation, without having to wait or worry about being able to access the church due to capacity.

Photo: Harlem Spirituals

Sunday: Join the must-do Harlem Gospel Tour, operating by bus, to dive into the rich and fascinating history of this quarter, discover its famous sights like The Apollo Theater, the Morris Jumel Mansion, and even Sylvan Terrace; and attend an authentic Gospel mass in one of its small churches. This visit is also available with a brunch option.

Wednesday: For those not in town for the weekend, the Wednesday Harlem Gospel Tour is offered in two versions: neighborhood tour on foot or by bus (with an option: lunch at Sylvia’s, the Queen of Soul Food), plus a gospel concert in a local church.

For more information and to reserve, click on the links below:

-Sunday Harlem Gospel tour by bus
-Sunday Harlem Gospel tour by bus with brunch
-Wednesday Harlem Gospel tour by bus
-Wednesday Harlem Gospel tour by bus with lunch
-Wednesday visit of Harlem on foot plus Gospel concert

Seeing a Gospel concert in Harlem is without a doubt a must-do in New York, and frankly is one of the best attractions of the city. In addition to our Harlem Gospel guided tours in English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian, please check out our Harlem Guide for more info and advice on what to see in Harlem. And to make the absolute most of your trip to New York City, consult our complete list of guided tours, attractions, and activities in English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian. Also, the Harlem Gospel tour is part of our special offer NYC WEEKENDER: 3 MUST-DO VISITS for a discounted price. That way, you’ll be able to explore the best of New York during a long weekend, which is ideal for a first trip to the Big Apple. We also know how tailoring your itinerary with custom-made visits is important, so rest assured that we can fully adapt to your desires and your budget. Harlem Spirituals is the ideal go-to for organizing your trip and managing all of your reservations! Visit our website or contact us by email at

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