As Juneteenth approaches, communities across the United States prepare to commemorate the significant milestone of emancipation. This annual celebration, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, or Liberation Day, holds deep cultural and historical significance for African Americans. It celebrates the day when Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas — June 19, 1865 — and announced the long-awaited news of freedom to the approximately 250,000 enslaved individuals still in bondage in the state.

The Civil Rights Movement of the mid-20th century revitalized Juneteenth, reigniting its popularity as a holiday that honors both the hard-fought victories of the past and the ongoing struggles for equality. In 1980, Texas officially recognized Juneteenth as a statewide holiday, and 47 other states have followed suit since then. However, it was not until the racial reckoning of 2020 that many Americans became aware of the significance of Juneteenth.

Following a campaign for national recognition, Juneteenth was finally established as a federal holiday in 2021, sparking renewed interest and enthusiasm for this momentous occasion. If you’re looking for the best places to visit for Juneteenth 2023 events, consider one of these cities.

Chicago, Illinois

Blavity Juneteenth celebration in Chicago flyer
Photo Credit: Neal Kharawala

Chicago is gearing up for an exciting Juneteenth celebration, showcasing festivals, markets, and more. Celebrations include the 1865 Fest at Garfield Park, honoring Black military members and fathers with music, arts, and food. Douglass Park hosts the Juneteenth Village Festival, a family-friendly event with live performances and community vendors. The Woodlawn is also presenting its Third Annual Juneteenth Block Party, featuring local vendors, entertainment, and live music.

In addition to festivals, there are markets and pop-ups to explore. SkyDeck Chicago invites attendees to the Emancipation Ball, offering epic views of the city, art, and Black-owned alcohol brands. Lawndale celebrates Juneteenth and Father’s Day with contests, races, DJs, and free food. The Harold Washington Cultural Center hosts the M.A.D.D. Rhythms Juneteenth celebration, showcasing live dance, music, workshops, art, and children’s activities.

For TN-approved festivities, the Blavity Juneteenth Celebration — in partnership with RNB HouseParty — is happening on Thursday, June 15th at the Bottom Lounge. Discover a vibrant marketplace showcasing Black businesses along with exclusive performances while creating new connections.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Aerial View of Tulsa Lit Up at Nightfall - Juneteenth 2023 events
Photo Credit: halbergman

Tulsa, the former home of Black Wall Street, embraces its heritage with a weekend-long Juneteenth Festival that leaves no stone unturned. Brimming with lively concerts, mouthwatering food, and captivating entertainment, Greenwood Avenue comes alive to celebrate freedom, resilience, and cultural pride. The festival also features various wellness events and interactive art installations, ensuring a diverse and immersive experience for all attendees.

While reveling in the festivities, visit Greenwood Rising, a groundbreaking institution honoring the neighborhood’s profound legacy and historical significance. This world-class museum is a testament to the resilience of the Black community and the remarkable story of Greenwood Avenue. Explore the rich tapestry of history, culture, and empowerment that shaped this vibrant community. Admission to Greenwood Rising is entirely free, allowing everyone to access and appreciate the invaluable heritage it preserves.

Richmond, Virginia

Black History Richmond
Photo Credit: Stephen Poore

Richmond is often referred to as the ancestral home of one in four African Americans as a result of the nation’s slave trade. The city, which played a central role in this dark chapter of American history, proudly commemorates those who were enslaved through its Emancipation and Freedom Monument, a rarity among nationwide memorials.

This June 17, Richmond’s Juneteenth celebrations will sweep across Dorey Park in nearby Henrico County. The event offers a captivating experience for attendees of all ages. From a bustling kid’s zone to vendors and an electrifying fireworks display, the festivities promise an immersive celebration of freedom.

Visitors to Richmond can also embark on a poignant journey by retracing the path of enslaved individuals through the self-guided Richmond Slave Trail. This historic trail’s seventeen markers chronicle the story of enslavement in the region, offering a tangible connection to the past. Walking along this trail provides a deeper understanding of the struggles endured by those who were denied their freedom.

Galveston, Texas

historical home in Galveston, Texas - Juneteenth 2023 events
Photo Credit: Pixabay

On June 17, The Grand 1894 Opera House will set the stage for the Emancipation Celebration. This event features a soul-stirring gospel choir and a remarkable award presentation. The following day, June 18th, Galveston’s annual Juneteenth Proclamation Reading takes center stage — an awe-inspiring event that brings the historical proclamation to life. Witnessing this powerful reading is a testament to the resilience and triumph of African Americans throughout history. The proclamation reading sets the scene for an extravagant parade and all-day festival, immersing attendees in the Juneteenth spirit.

While in Galveston, be sure to explore the self-guided freedom walk and the African American history tour. Another must-see attraction is Absolute Equality. This breathtaking 5,000-square-foot mural was unveiled last year, serving as a poignant symbol of the ongoing pursuit of justice and equality.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Love Park sign in Philadelphia, United States
Photo Credit: Daniel O’Donnell

Philadelphia, the birthplace of democracy, has made significant strides since its inaugural Juneteenth parade in 2016. This year, join a thriving community of 25,000 attendees in West Philadelphia on June 18th. Prepare for an immersive experience with a kaleidoscope of floats, mesmerizing dancers, bustling vendors, and inspiring community leaders.

Following the parade, the festivities continue at Malcolm X Park. Here, a spirited festival awaits, filled with joyful camaraderie and vibrant celebrations.

For a different experience, venture across town to the African American Museum in Philadelphia, where a free block party beckons. There, you can revel in performances by acclaimed artists such as Talib Kweli and a roster of other special guests. This dynamic gathering at the museum promises to be a memorable highlight of the Juneteenth celebrations.

Montgomery, Alabama

Montgomery, Alabama street at night
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone

Montgomery played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement. As such, it is gearing up for an extraordinary Juneteenth celebration that pays homage to its historic legacy.

On June 18, the city’s Rosa Parks Museum will host the 7th Annual Juneteenth Celebration. The vibrant event is free to attend, with live music, vendors, and an authentic 1950s Montgomery city bus on display. The festivities continue with the Manifest Liberty Gala, a multi-generational gathering highlighting the power of storytelling and song.

You can also head to the Riverwalk Amphitheater for the Global African Diaspora Heritage Day. Enjoy an evening filled with captivating spoken word performances, theater acts, crafts, poetry readings, literature displays, and delectable food trucks.

Montgomery’s rich history and deep connection to the Civil Rights Movement make it an ideal location to commemorate Juneteenth. With a lineup of engaging activities and a spirit of unity, Montgomery’s Juneteenth celebration promises to be a truly unforgettable experience.

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