Despite growing in popularity in recent years, Juneteenth is a holiday that many people are still unaware of or have only recently learned about. Juneteenth, Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day—this day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States may go by many-a-name, but the cornerstones are fellowship, food, and most importantly, freedom.
With Juneteenth just around the corner, cities nationwide are gearing up for days filled with fun and festivities. Want to join in on the action? Here are 5 cities with some of the best Juneteenth celebrations.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including Juneteenth celebrations, especially considering Texas is the birthplace of the historic holiday. In 1872, a group of freed people purchased ten acres of land, known as Emancipation Park, to host Juneteenth events. 150 years later, Houstonians and travelers alike still gather at this historic park and celebrate with food, singing, a parade, and picnics. This year, you can attend events both virtually and in person, like the Juneteenth Worship Experience at Buffalo Bayou, panel discussions led by the Buffalo Soldiers Museum, and fun arts & crafts events for the family. You can even hop on two wheels and take a tour of Houston’s oldest African American communities on a 20-mile Juneteenth Freedom Ride.
As the mecca of the Civil Rights Movement, Atlanta is a city all about Black liberation and the celebration of Black history. After being put on pause in 2020, the Atlanta Juneteenth celebrations are back and chock full of free concerts, festivals, tours, art, and the annual Juneteenth parade! Kick off the weekend with the Atlanta Juneteenth Music Festival, the largest of the Atlanta metro area Juneteenth celebrations. You’ll find over 300 Black-owned vendors, two music stages, historical re-enactments, food trucks, and children’s activities. You can even lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement on a 5K Freedom Run.
Where to stay: Kimpton Sylvan Hotel
Juneteenth in Philadelphia is a prime example of the Instagram trend, “How it started vs. how it’s going.” The inaugural 2016 Juneteenth event started with just two floats, 50 vendors, and 5,000 attendees. Five years later, the Juneteenth event in Philadelphia features over 20 floats, over 250 vendors, and over 25,000 attendees. The annual parade won’t take place this year due to COVID-19, but instead you can stroll through the neighborhoods of West Philadelphia where houses will be decked out in Freedom Day decor for the Freedom Day Float House Competition. There will also be a Freedom Day March to help push to make Juneteenth a national holiday. After the march, you can mosey on over to Malcolm X Park for “Art in the Park”.
Where to stay: Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia
Denver’s Juneteenth celebrations date back to the 1950s, and this year, Denver’s 10 annual Juneteenth Music Festival returns to the Five Points neighborhood. This will be a two-day event starting at Levitt Pavilion with an R&B Summer Kick Off. On Juneteenth you can attend the Juneteenth Parade, one of Denver’s longest running parades. The two-day street fest is not to be missed, nor the Five Points of Culture—a Juneteenth pop-up museum.
Where to stay: Kimpton Hotel Born
The nation’s capital is honoring Juneteenth, Black history, and freedom through a multitude of in-person and virtual events. On the virtual front, you can attend the two-day Freedom Festival where panels will discuss initiatives in the Black community as well as criminal justice reform, education, equity, and more. Or you can learn some choreographed moves inspired by the Black experience with Step Afrika! dance company. In-person events include a Moechella Rock-the-Block Party with live performances, food trucks, and vendors. Support Black businesses at the Juneteenth Community Day while being immersed in a world of music and artistry.
Where to stay: Kimpton Banneker Hotel
This blog post was commissioned in partnership with the Black Travel Alliance.