23 ways to celebrate Juneteenth in NYC

June 13, 2023

For over 150 years, Black Americans have celebrated Juneteenth, the day President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation order reached the people of Galveston, Texas, ending slavery. While Juneteenth became an official federal and state holiday only in recent years, Black Americans in New York City and nationwide have long been commemorating the holiday. New Yorkers have many opportunities to celebrate Juneteenth this year, from musical performances and panel discussions to comedy shows and food festivals.

Juneteenth at the Queens Public Library
The Queens Public Library is hosting a wide selection of activities in celebration of Juneteenth, including family activities, arts and crafts, drum circles, story writing, cooking, movie screenings, and more. You can see a full list of Juneteenth events happening across QPL branches here.

Black Women in Comedy Laff Fest
Wednesday, June 14 through Sunday, June 18
The BWIC Fest features some of the brightest and most hilarious Black women, those who identify as women, and those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. The comedians will take the stage across the five boroughs at venues including Don’t Tell Mama’s, the St. Marks Comedy Club, Young Ethel’s, Luv Story, and the Cobra Club. Performers include Ashima Franklin, Ayana Dookie, Toni Byrd, and Glo Butler. Tickets cost $20 per show.

Living History: Celebrate Juneteenth
Saturday, June 17 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, Manhattan
Hosted at the New-York Historical Society, “Living History: Celebrate Juneteenth” explores the history behind the Juneteenth holiday, how it has changed over time, and the local traditions connected to the holiday. Visitors will learn how to make a Juneteenth flag and how to set a Juneteenth table. The event is part of Civic Season, an annual event that takes place from Juneteenth through July 4 and invites visitors to delve into the rich, complex history of America through exhibitions and other engaging programs. Living History is free with museum admission.

Photo by Keven Milton, courtesy of the Juneteenth Freedom Fest NYC Outdoor Fest

Juneteenth Freedom Fest NYC
Saturday, June 17 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Harlem State Office Building Plaza, 163 West 125th Street, Harlem, Manhattan
Celebrate Black people, Black culture, and “Black dope-ness” at the Juneteenth Freedom Fest in Harlem. Founded in 2021, the festival provides attendees with both virtual and in-person programming, including virtual performances, trivia, and online panel discussions on the medical industry, credit repair, wealth building, and how to make a living as a full-time content creator. The festival’s in-person event, the third annual JFFNYC Outdoor Fest, offers activities for attendees of all ages. Look forward to live performances, music, free prizes and giveaways, raffles, games and trivia, bounce houses, food, and much more. Be sure to bring your wallets and support Black-owned businesses!

14th Annual Juneteenth NYC
Friday, June 16 through Sunday, June 18 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Linden Park and Prospect Park West
The East New York and Brownsville communities have been hosting the Juneteenth NY Festival for 14 years, bringing the local community together over three days to enjoy and celebrate Black culture with music, dance, family activities, poetry, history, and much more. Over 25,000 attendees are expected to join in the festivities, which include Black-owned vendors, workshops, live performances by local talent, a fashion show, a community art project, and much more. The festival will take place at Linden Park on Saturday, June 17, and in Prospect Park on Sunday, June 18.

Soul of the City: Juneteenth with Queen Esther
Saturday, June 17 at 2 p.m.
Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan
In celebration of Juneteenth, singer, songwriter, and storyteller Queen Esther will captivate audiences with selections from an expansive body of alt-country, jazz, and Black Americana music. Using her music, Esther fearlessly contradicts the all-to-common historical narratives and reveals the resolve of Black people throughout the 19th century. Esther will play a few songs from her latest release “Rona,” a pandemic-era album that explores themes of love, the city, and home. Queen Esther will be joined by Brandi Disterheft on bass, Jeff McLaughlin on guitar, J. Walter Hawkes on ukelele, and Sharp Radway on piano. Tickets cost $15 and $10 for MCNY members.

Image courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy

Juneteenth in Seneca Village Celebration
Sunday, June 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Central Park Conservancy’s Juneteenth celebration is returning to Seneca Village after a successful debut last year. New Yorkers are invited to the park to explore and participate in wellness activities at the site of a former prosperous Black community that existed before the creation of Central Park. Somatic coach Jen Chau Fontan and artistic director of Emotions Physical Theatre Shawn Rawls will lead guests on a guided wellness practice that will help release trauma and stress. Artist Shanequa Benitez will create a community art project inspired by the braiding patterns of enslaved Africans to communicate escape routes, and artists Mother Zion Church and IAMKHEMESTRY will perform renditions of historical and Afrofuturist spirituals. Additional performers include comedians Seaton Smith, Joyelle Nicole Johnson, and Ethan Simmons-Patterson.

Juneteenth Celebration in Battery Park City
Monday, June 19 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
75 Battery Place, Rockefeller Park, Manhattan
The 7th annual Juneteenth Celebration is returning to Battery Park City this year. Hosted by the Battery Park City Authority and featuring the Federation of Black Cowboys, a community in New York City dedicated to preserving the legacy of Black cowboys, the event includes pony rides for children and fun arts and crafts, including painting a Juneteenth flag and making a banana out of a West African print fabric. Visitors are encouraged to dress in a Western-style or Juneteenth theme and to bring a blanket and dinner basket.

Sound, Sun, Pleasure: A Juneteenth Celebration
Saturday, June 17 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Join the Abrons Art Center for a day full of live music curated by MIKE and hosted by ThugPop. Featured performers include cry$cross, Niontay, HiTech, Na-Kel, Anyia Kim, and DJ Assault. Admission is free and advance registration is required.


Image courtesy of APM World/Emmanuel Agbeble

Schomburg Juneteenth Literary Festival
Saturday, June 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is hosting its fifth annual Literary Festival, featuring discussions, workshops, and book signings with both emerging and established writers from across the Black Diaspora. The festival’s theme is “Literacy is Generational Wealth,” featuring book talks with Sarah Ladipo Manyika, author of Between Starshine and Clay and Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun, Cynthia Manick, author of No Sweet Without Brine, and many more renowned authors. The festival, which takes place during the Juneteenth weekend, will also feature a marketplace of local vendors and organizations, the New York Public Library mobile library, and programs for guests of all ages.

Nice Festival, Norwalk, CT., 2022. Photo by Brad Bowie.

River To River Festival Closing Concert
Monday, June 19, 5:30 p.m.
The 22nd annual River to River Festival will conclude this year with a free concert performance by Guinean multi-instrumentalist Natu Camara and her band of afro-rock and soul musicians at Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City. Now based in NYC, Camara is an emerging musical star committed to the empowerment and education of young women and children in West Africa.

Image courtesy of the Green-Wood Cemetery

Juneteenth Family Day at Green-Wood
Monday, June 19 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn
Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery is inviting guests to explore the grounds and learn more about the cemetery’s ties to Black history. Visitors will participate in free art activities like crafting legacy bracelets, contributing to the cemetery’s BIPOC Heritage Board, and decorating a kindness rock that can be taken home or left at a grave. Families will also be able to take a self-guided tour of the gravesites of Black historical figures. Maps and biographies of featured burial sites throughout the cemetery will be available upon entry to Green-Wood. Admission is free, and registration is recommended.

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Keegin Colley

Juneteenth Celebration in Prospect Park
Sunday, July 2 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Lefferts Historic House, Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Prospect Park is hosting its own celebration at the Lefferts Historic House in celebration of Juneteenth. This year’s theme is “Rise in Spirit” and will feature performances by Afric dancers and drummers from the Asase Yaa Youth Ensemble, the IET Band jazz quartet, tap dancer Joseph Webb, the St. Paul’s Baptist Church gospel choir, and theatrical readings by Sharon Gordon. Prospect Park Alliance educators will also lead cooking demonstrations, historical games, and much more. Admission is free, and you can RSVP here.

Juneteenth UNITYFEST 2023
Saturday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Lena Horne Bandshell, 9th Street & Prospect Park West, Brooklyn
As part of their summer programming, BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! is hosting a concert in celebration of Juneteenth. Co-presented by the Robert Randolph Foundation, the concert features Grammy-nominated musicians JOE and Stokley who will take guests on a journey through music and storytelling that celebrate Black history and futurity. You can RSVP here.

National Dance Institute’s “RISE”
June 17 through 19
NYU Skirball Center, 566 LaGuardia Place, Manhattan
For their event of the year, the NID is celebrating the life of Dr. Maya Angelou with a series of live music and dance performances by over 100 children from NYC public schools. Directed by Bianca Johnson, “RISE” will feature performances by NDI Helen Stambler Neuberger Artist-in-Residence LayeRhythm & Chrybaby Cozie and new works created by NDI’s choreographers and musicians. Performances will take place on June 17, 19, and 19. Tickets can be purchased here.

Juneteenth Dance Party
Sunday, June 18 from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
House of Yes, 2 Wyckoff Avenue, Brooklyn
Presented by Beyond the Black Box, an organization that highlights Black voices by building connections and educating people through art and culture, this free event includes a fun night full of dancing in the name of Black history and the fight for freedom. Other activities include live performances, hair braiding, stick n’ poke tattoos, and more. Admission is free with advanced registration and $15 at the door.

Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth
Duffy Square, Broadway between 45th and 47th Streets, Manhattan

Sunday, June 18 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The third annual “Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth” event invites guests to a free outdoor celebration of more than 25 Black artists from a dozen Broadway shows, as well as a special sneak peek performance from the upcoming Broadway musical The Wiz. Live music will be provided by the Music Performance Trust Fund. At the event, the 2023 Juneteenth Legacy Award will be presented to Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon, who is being recognized for his contributions to Broadway and his philanthropic and educational efforts.

Image courtesy of Curtis Saunders

Juneteenth Food Festival
Weeksville Heritage Center, 158 Buffalo Avenue, Brooklyn

Saturday, June 17 through Tuesday, June 20 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Join the Weeksville Heritage Center and Jummy’s Picks by Black-Owned Brooklyn as they host the second annual Juneteenth Food Festival. This year’s festival will feature 29 Black-owned food businesses offering traditional African American food, including barbecue, fried fish, crab boil, red beans and rice, red velvet cake, and additional cuisines from regions of Africa and the Caribbean. The event will also host a small marketplace, offering apparel, accessories, records, books, and more, all from Black brands. You can RSVP here.

Park Jams: A Juneteenth Celebration of Hip-Hop
Central Park, Rumsey Playfield, Manhattan
Monday, June 19 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
SummerStage has a special concert planned for Juneteenth that celebrates hip-hop music and highlights the immense impact the Black community has had on music and NYC. The night will feature performances by DJ Premier, a legendary producer who has worked with the Notorious B.I.G., Rakim, and Janet Jackson, and many others. NYC’s own Grandmaster Flash, a pioneer of the genre itself, will perform, as well as Kid Capri, DJ SpinKing, Diamond Kuts, DJ Nyla, and others.

Juneteenth Night Market
Laurelton LIRR Station, 225th Street & 141st Road, Queens

Monday, June 19 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Presented by Chae Corp + BlaQue NY, the Juneteenth Night Market features a diverse selection of vendors offering farm-fresh produce, handmade crafts, apparel, and much more. The event in the Laurelton neighborhood of Queens will feature a kid’s corner with games, a dance party, live drumming, and food trucks. Admission is free.

Juneteenth: In Our Words
Monday, June 19 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Jamaica Performing Arts Center, 153-10 Jamaica Avenue, Queens
The Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning is giving the stage to five spoken word artists who will express Juneteenth in their own words. There will be an open mic for the last 30 minutes of the event, giving guests the opportunity to step up and share a few words about what Juneteenth means to them if they wish.

REPARATIONS! A Juneteenth Celebration of Black Improv Comedy
Monday, June 19 at 7 p.m.

Caveat, 21 A Clinton Street, Manhattan
Get ready for a night of laughter at Caveat on the Lower East Side with REPARATIONS! A Juneteenth Celebration of Black Improv Comedy. Join Sydney Duncan and a lineup of hilarious Black comedians from NYC as they honor Juneteenth. The event will also be live-streamed. Tickets cost $20 at the door and $10 for the livestream.

Black Restaurant Week
Monday, June 19 through Sunday, July 2
During Black Restaurant Week, discover Black-owned restaurants, food trucks, and more across NYC and in New Jersey. A full list of participating locations can be found here.

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