HARLEM — It's called Harlem Week, but the events stretch well beyond a month.
When the festival first started in 1974, it became so popular that more days were added. It's name, however, remained the same.
"Only in Harlem can you have a week that lasts a month to 45 days," said Harlem Week vice-chairman Marko Nobles.
"It's always been about showcasing the importance and greatness of the Harlem community and showing why Harlem is one of most recognized neighborhoods in the world," he added.
This year's festival is no exception. With everything from dance parties in the street to an auto show and a 5K race, organizers said the 2011 festival is better than ever.
"There's something for everybody, including events for children, an auto show and even sporting events," said Nobles.
Among the highlights, includes Thursday's kickoff with the New York City Economic Development Seminar Lunch and Exposition at Columbia University's Lerner Hall at 115th and Broadway.
On Aug. 9, a senior citizens "Elder Jubilee" will be held at the State Office Building starting at 10 a.m. at 163 W. 125th Street.
More than 50 black colleges and universities will descend on West 135th Street between Lenox Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard on Saturday, Aug. 20 during the Black College Fair.
Harlem Day on Aug. 21 will be one of the event's highlights. A children's festival at the P.S. 175 schoolyard, along with an automobile show featuring new, vintage and exotic vehicles will be held on West 135th between Lenox and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard.
"Harlem Day is the largest day of Harlem Week," said Nobles. "It is the day that started Harlem Week. There will be four stages of entertainment, live radio broadcasting, the Upper Manhattan Auto show and international performances that speak to the importance of celebrating our diversity."
The day will also include a tribute to the victims of 9/11.
Aug. 27 is the Hon. Percy Sutton Harlem 5k Run and NYC Walk for the Health of the Children of Haiti. The event will help to raise money for the Harlem Healthy Eating and Living Initiative.
"With these events, we hope to showcase all of what Harlem is about," Nobles said.
For a full listing of events, visit the Harlem Week website.