Juneteenth Celebrations Around DC in 2023

Celebrate Juneteenth with an array of festivities at the NMAAHC

 

Marking the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1965, Juneteenth officially became a federal holiday in 2021 — though it’s been celebrated at some places around the area for many years. While the actual day is June 19, there are events to celebrate it all weekend long leading up to the day.  Here’s a round-up of the best ones for families — both annual commemorations and new events — in 2023.

One Life: Frederick Douglass
Where: National Portrait Gallery | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Opens June 16
Admission: Free

The National Portrait Gallery is opening an exhibit on abolitionist Frederick Douglass during Juneteenth weekend. “One Life: Frederick Douglass” illuminates the legacy of one of the 19th century’s most influential writers, speakers and intellectuals through prints, photographs and ephemera. While there is a not a specific event happening, a visit to see the exhibit is a great way to mark the occasion.

What’s Going On NOW
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: June 16 & 17
Admission: $39-99

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s iconic album What’s Going On at this star-studded, the NSO presents a star-studded concert featuring the Prince of Motown’s greatest hits performed by some of today’s finest artists, including Michelle Williams, Joshua Henry, Cory Henry, Luke James, Emily King, and Bilal.

Juneteenth Community Day
Where: NMAAHC | National Mall, DC
When: June 17
Admission: Free

In celebration of Juneteenth 2023, the NMAAHC returns to its perennial theme, “Senses of Freedom: The Taste, Sound, and Experience of an African American Celebration.” During thisJuneteenth Community Day visitors can explore the gifts of gardening and the culinary arts, hear stories, listen to music, and discover their inner artist with crafts for all ages. The public is invited to visit the Museum’s galleries, grounds, and Sweet Home Cafe to create memories and learn more about this historic holiday both inside and outside the museum. Outdoor festivities do not require tickets, but be sure to reserve free passes to go inside.

Juneteenth Festival
Where: Watkins Regional Park | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: June 17, 12-5pm
Admission: Free

Bring blankets and lawn chairs to hang out and enjoy this joyous day of celebration of African American history and culture. Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Marking the date that the last enslaved people learned of their freedom, the month of June and the nineteenth day were combined to form the word Juneteenth. This annual countywide festival features live entertainment, food, vendors, arts and history activities, and a wide range of activities for all ages.

Juneteenth Family Day
Where: National Archives | National Mall, DC
When: June 17, 11am – 2:30pm
Admission: Free
Celebrate Juneteenth—the annual holiday commemorating the end of legal slavery in the United States—with family-friendly art-making and activities in the Boeing Learning Center. Come see the official handwritten General Order No. 3 and learn about Arlington’s Freedman’s Village with educators from the National Archives Museum and Arlington National Cemetery. All ages are welcome!

Freedom Before Emancipation: Family Day for Juneteenth
Where: Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: June 17
Admission: $26/age 12+, $13/age 6-11, free/5 & under

This program will be part of a visit to George Washington’s estate this weekend. Learn about Ona Judge, Christopher Sheels, and Mount Vernon’s many enslaved people who resisted enslavement and sought freedom before the Emancipation Proclamation — their characters will be on the grounds to meet visitors. You can also join a special tour about enslaved people and a slave memorial commemoration ceremony. Read more about Mount Vernon here.

Juneteenth Celebration
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park | Centreville, VA
When: June 17, 1pm
Admission: Free

Join Frying Pan to celebrate African American stories, food traditions, music, and contributions to American spiritual life. Activities will include a special guest storyteller, live music, crafts, history, and food trucks offering African American cuisine. Be sure to sign up – space is limited!

Community Festival: Celebrate Juneteenth
Where: Brookland Arts Walk | Brookland, DC
When: June 18, 11am – 5pm
Admission: Free

There will be special activities to celebrate the day at Brookland Arts Walk this weekend. Enjoy cultural performances, browse the market of good from Black-owned businesses, take kiddos to a story time with the author, do some art activities, attend a session with the movement coach and drummer from the Marvel Black Panther films, and more.

Juneteenth for the City
Where: 700 Good Hope Rd SE | Anacosia, DC
When: June 17, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

Join Bread for the City and Mema’s Popups for a Juneteenth celebration featuring music, performances, and presentations. Plus, you can dine and shop at various Black-owned businesses throughout the day.

Scotland Juneteenth Heritage Festival
Where: Various locations in Montgomery County, MD
When: June 17-19
Admission: Varies by event

Celebrate the past and present of the first places African-Americans owned land in Montgomery County. Featuring a children’s carnival and music performance, as well as art exhibitions, food, sports, and presentations on Black history in this region, the events for the federal holiday on Monday, June 19, will be spread across the Cabin John Regional Park, Cabin John Village, and the Scotland community on Seven Locks Road.

Hike the Underground Railroad Experience Trail
Where: Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park | Sandy Spring, MD
When: Daily, sunrise to sunset
Admission: Free

A great outing anytime, but particularly meaningful for Juneteenth, this hike offers insight into the experience of enslaved peoples’ escape to freedom. The walk through woods and along edges of fields (with a map and explanation of the hike) is interesting and enlightening as well as an active way to spend time outdoors.  On February 18, Woodlawn Manor will be hosting a special Black History Month Family Day, when you ca stop in the Visitors Center to pick up take-home activities for kids as well as a trail map (though you can also print that out at home if you go a different day).

Visit BLM Plaza
Where: 16th Street NW | Downtown DC
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

The two blocks along 16th Street NW, between K Street and Lafayette Park just across from the White House, was emboldened with the giant yellow BLACK LIVES MATTER statement in the summer of 2020 as the BLM movement began to swell after the murder of George Floyd. It’s since been repainted and become permanent. The pedestrian area is now a site of historic significance in DC, a meeting place and focal point of protests and other events, and a place for reflection on the words emblazoned on the street

Juneteenth Freedom Celebration
Where: Anacostia Community Museum | Anacostia, DC
When: June 19, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Join the Anacostia Community Museum for a day-long celebration and gather with family, friends, and neighbors to honor the present and reflect on shared tradition and history. The event will include performances from local musicians, a double dutch contest, and urban gardening workshop.

Freedom Day Celebration
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: June 19, 1-7pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Juneteenth at National Harbor and visit the Freedom Day Black-Owned Marketplace in the Capital Canopy. Support the community and check out a variety of businesses, food vendors and stick around for the cultural performances starting at 5pm on the Plaza Stage.

Step Afrika! Step Xplosion
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: June 19, 7pm
Admission: $35-75

Strathmore is marking Juneteenth with Step Xplosion, a celebration of the art form of stepping by Step Afrika! Honoring its rich roots in the African American fraternity and sorority experience, this show emphasizes the presence of stepping in the daily and future lives of students. This year’s collaborative production will feature the local premiere of The Movement, a new work choreographed by longstanding Step Afrika! performer Conrad Kelly II.

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