Where to celebrate Juneteenth all over the USA

A federal holiday since 2021, Juneteenth celebrates the full promulgation of the United States’ Emancipation Proclamation. 

This historic federal decree, made by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, officially declared the 4 million enslaved Black Americans living in the United States at the time legally free. News of the proclamation spread slowly from east to west over the subsequent two years, with Texas, the nation’s westernmost Confederate state at the time, being the last one to announce the freedom of every American, on June 19, 1865. Thus was the Juneteenth celebration born. 

In the subsequent years and decades, the Black American community has celebrated the occasion to various extents – before Juneteenth officially became a universal American holiday through an act of Congress that President Joe Biden signed into law on June 17, 2021. Since then, Juneteenth has brought forth an array of historically nuanced, remarkably creative and innovative cultural events. Read on to get inspired by major Juneteenth celebrations planned in cities throughout the USA.

The Lincoln Center hosts cultural events in honor of Juneteenth, like this performance by Kimberly Nichole, Nona Hendryx and Marcelle Lashley during “I Dream A Dream That Dreams Back At Me” in 2021 © by John Lamparski / Getty Images

Juneteenth celebrations in New York City

The city that never sleeps will be offering a weekend-long program of artistic and athletic events, including an award ceremony honoring 28 men hailing from NYC who have profoundly impacted their communities, a restaurant crawl featuring Black-owned businesses around the city and a festival featuring vendors and performers.

Lincoln Center will also be hosting a program called “Some Sing,” an event created by curator Carl Hancock Rux and described as “a campus-wide jubilee of Black sound in all its vernacular and complex manifestations.” Attendees will discover concerts across the campus featuring experimental jazz and soul performances, and a main-event concert featuring the work of award-winning composer Toshi Reagon.

Read more: Black Gotham walking tours will lead you through New York’s untold history

Juneteenth celebrations in Chicago

This world-class city is home to a long line of history-shifting Black Americans, from Jean Baptiste Point du Sable and Ida B. Wells to contemporary artist Rashid Johnson and Barack Obama. Juneteenth is the perfect moment to visit this always-exciting town and enjoy both the beautiful early-summer weather and the festivities. 

The USA’s first independent museum dedicated exclusively to African American culture and history, the DuSable Museum of African American History in Hyde Park will be hosting numerous events. Explore the museum’s extensively researched exhibits before heading to the nearby Juneteenth Block Party. 

For those looking for an upscale evening out on the town for Juneteenth, ascend to the sky-high 99th floor of Chicago’s iconic Willis Tower for the city’s Emancipation Ball. The cocktail creations and drinks served will all be made with spirits made by Black-owned, Chicago-based brands, with art on display by Black artists. 

In the historically Black neighborhood of Bronzeville, Gallery Guichard displays some of the finest works and exhibitions in the city pertaining to the African diaspora, including sculpture, paintings, decorative arts and furniture. For a pre-Juneteenth treat, take the Bronzeville Art District Trolley tour, which will drop you off on the doorstep of the gallery.

A group of dancers dressed in blue make their way through the streets of Atlanta for Juneteenth
Atlanta hosts a huge Juneteenth celebration every year © Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Juneteenth celebrations in Atlanta

This city of Atlanta is known nationally and internationally as a hub of Black American history. Like Houston, Atlanta has been celebrating the holiday for decades and is well-versed in putting on a fine array of concerts, festivals, museum tours, athletic events and parties to suit every taste and budget. The 5K Freedom Run is a crowd favorite, while the historic, three-day-long Juneteenth Atlanta Parade and Music Festival in Centennial Olympic Park is an annual must-attend. The festival offers everything from aerial flyovers to dance troupes to a market with a lineup of Black-owned vendors.  Keep an eye out for visitors and partner groups from throughout the South as well as from countries in the Caribbean, South America, Africa and beyond. Juneteenth is an international affair here. 

Read more: Top Atlanta sites that honor the legacy of Martin Luther King

Juneteenth celebrations in Houston

In the state where the very first Juneteenth celebration occurred, the festivities in Houston, Texas, have been seriously fun – and deeply meaningful – for over a century. Emancipation Park in the city’s 3rd Ward is the perfect example. One of the city’s best green spaces, it’s not only the oldest park in the entire Houston metro area – it was also the only public park accessible to Black Americans for the long periods of the segregation and Jim Crow eras. The park hosts several days of activities including lectures, the Freedom Run/Walk, and music celebrations. A friendly local event, the Annual Juneteenth Celebration Vendor Market will also be back for another year, with stall upon stall of handmade and homemade merchandise from over 50 Black-owned vendors. For a complete list of Juneteenth events across the city, check out Juneteenth Houston’s calendar.

Pasua Turner jumps double dutch as people take part in a Juneteenth event along Black Lives Matter Plaza on Monday June 19, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Juneteenth events take all forms, from parades to community gatherings to academic seminars © The Washington Post / Getty Images

Juneteenth celebrations in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire celebrates the legacy of African American communities in New England year-round. For Juneteenth, this organization has put together educational projects and polished arts programming at sites in Portsmouth and around New Hampshire, including academic lectures, a musical event celebrating Motown and an African drumming workshop. 

This article was first published Jun 16, 2020 and updated Jun 11, 2024.

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