Top cities where you can celebrate Juneteenth

Looking for the right place to celebrate Juneteenth? Here are some of our top picks.

Pan-African flag, Juneteenth,
A Pan-African flag flies from Black Lives Matter Plaza overlooking the White House on Juneteenth to mark the liberation of slavery in 1865 on June 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images)

On June 19, the nation will celebrate Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day. Juneteenth celebrations commemorate the day, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, that the last enslaved people found out that they were free. Now that Juneteenth has been officially recognized as a federal holiday, more and more places across the country are sponsoring big events that you won’t want to miss out on.

As you plan how to mark the day this year, here are a few cities with their own celebrations worth looking into.

Galveston, Texas

IRONMAN 70.3 Texas
GALVESTON, TEXAS – APRIL 02: An aerial view as age group athletes compete on the run course at IRONMAN 70.3 Texas on April 02, 2023 in Galveston, Texas. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

What better place to visit this year than the city where Juneteenth began? In 1865, on June 19, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston with news of the Emancipation Proclamation. With that news, and with the reading of General Order No. 3, the end of slavery had officially reached every part of the United States.

Galveston is obviously proud of their place in history, and they hold annual celebrations every Juneteenth. During the month of June, you can head to Galveston for one of their guided tours; you can also check out their festival, symposium, banquet or parade. This year, the opera house in Galveston will be hosting an Emancipation Celebration.

For its place of pride in history, we can’t recommend Galveston enough if you want an unforgettable Juneteenth.

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta also loves to celebrate its history when Juneteenth comes around. With the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., if you’re looking to honor Black history, Atlanta has plenty to offer.

The Atlanta History Center hosts an all-day event every year that includes everything from crafts for the kids to art and storytelling for the adults. And you’ll want to catch the annual parade in Centennial Olympic Park in the heart of Atlanta. The music festival lasts for days and is free to the public. This year, you can expect to find a natural hair show as well as camp activities for kids.

Washington, D.C.

This Juneteenth, try visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Photo by Matthew Allen)

If you’re looking for a truly educational Juneteenth experience, you can always head to Washington, D.C., where you can find the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History. This year, the museum’s celebration will include music and classic food as well as a display commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous March on Washington. Don’t worry if you can’t get all the way out to D.C.; the museum has online tools you can use to educate yourself and your family about all things Juneteenth.

You could also participate in the 10K run or the half-marathon set for June 17 this year, or you could check out the block party hosted by Mema’s Popups and Bread For The City. While you’re there, make sure you check out the local artists and support the Black-owned businesses in D.C.

New York City, New York

Juneteenth Celebrations Held Across The U.S.
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 19: People play double dutch during a Juneteenth celebration in Fort Greene Park on June 19, 2022 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. President Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday in June 2021, proclaiming it as a day for all Americans to commemorate the end of slavery. The date’s history goes back to the year 1865 when Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas to deliver the news that slavery had ended after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Of course, if you’re looking for a big party, where else would you look but New York City? This year, the Juneteenth celebration will be held over the weekend from June 16 to June 18, featuring a virtual summit, a festival and a grand finale concert. The theme this year is “Kaleidoscope on Black Culture.”

You could also check out Juneteenth Freedom Fest NYC, a week-long festival that started in 2021. If you’re looking for a quieter option to celebrate the holiday, you could go to the Brooklyn Museum or check out Juneteenth Grove in Brooklyn. No matter what, you definitely won’t have a shortage of options for things to do in New York City this June.

Juneteenth celebration in New York City
People attend Juneteenth celebrations in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, on June 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File)

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit’s Juneteenth Jubilee is definitely worth the trip if you’re looking for a fast-growing celebration. Last year, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History held a treasure hunt across historical sites, and this year, we’re expecting to see even more fun and interesting ways to engage with our past and heritage there.

The Detroit community also offers plenty to do for the whole family, including pancake breakfasts, music performances, film festivals and carnival rides. Surrounded by good food and community, you’ll definitely have a memorable holiday trip.

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles has plenty to offer this Juneteenth, with festivals and concerts as well as a fireworks show at the port. You could check out celebrations like SoulfulofNoise’s Juneteenth Festival, or you could go to one of the many fairs taking place over the week.

If you’re not looking for an all-day event, you can always check out a comedy show or other live performance. You could also attend one of the many workshops being held by the various festivals; last year’s celebrations included activities ranging from hair braiding to financial workshops.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is chock full of museums and art, so you’ll have plenty to see if you head here for Juneteenth. You might try out the South Side Community Art Center, for example, or you could head to one of the many local theaters to catch a good show.

If you head to Chicago this year, you’ll definitely want to keep your eyes peeled for pop-ups and markets. What better way to celebrate Juneteenth than to support Black-owned businesses and build community?

Juneteenth celebrations in Thailand
About 20 people of African descent living abroad gather for dinner at a Jamaican restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand, to celebrate America’s newest federal holiday, Juneteenth. (AP Photo/Annika Wolters)

Celebrate Juneteenth in your hometown

Of course, if you can’t travel for whatever reason or if you prefer to have family get-togethers instead of going to big festivals, you can celebrate Juneteenth at home. Host a big meal with your friends and neighbors, invite your family to a virtual summit, or sit with your kids and tell them the story behind the holiday. You could also have a movie night; public media channel WORLD has an entire list of movies that could be the perfect entertainment for your Juneteenth celebrations. Try ordering food from Black-owned businesses in your neighborhood or going to a local parade; there are plenty of ways you can support your community this Juneteenth.

Wherever you go and whatever you do, make sure you make your celebration memorable.