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Juneteenth Black to Broadway
Photograph: Jeremy Daniel

A guide to this year's best Juneteenth events 2023

Commemorate and celebrate the ending of slavery in the U.S. with these jubilant events.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Shaye Weaver
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Shaye Weaver

It's time to celebrate Juneteenth 2023!

Juneteenth has been celebrated by Black Americans since the late 1800s, but in 2020, the holiday garnered renewed attention as Black Lives Matter demonstrators called (and still call) for meaningful policy changes following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers.

NYC and New York recently made Juneteenth an official holiday, and it's now a federal holiday also. 

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is the celebration and commemoration of the end of slavery in the U.S. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers brought news to Galveston, Texas that the war was over and enslaved people were free (this was two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.) The celebration was coined "Juneteenth" and became a time for praying and for gathering with family. It became massively celebrated in Texas decades later, with many of the formerly enslaved and their descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date, according to

When is Juneteenth?

June 19 is on a Monday this year.

How will Juneteenth be celebrated this year?

The day has been celebrated more in Southern states with rodeos, fishing, barbecuing and baseball, with a focus on education and self-improvement.

New York City has so many ways to celebrate this year. Scroll down to make your plans for Juneteenth.

The best Juneteenth events in NYC 2023

Celebrate this important holiday by delving deep in Black history at Green-Wood Cemetery. This free event on Monday, June 19 will include family-friendly tours and art activities inspired by the Black lives that are forever memorialized at Green-Wood.

Families can participate in free art activities with ASNEAA’s Community Legacy Project: make a legacy bracelet, contribute to the BIPOC Heritage Board, or decorate a kindness rock to take home or leave at a grave.

Take a self-guided tour of the gravesites of fascinating Black historical figures. Maps and biographies of featured burial sites will be available upon entry, and the cemetery's trolley will be available for riders.

Head to Seneca Village this Juneteenth weekend for a family-friendly celebration of Black wellness dance, music, art-making comedy and self-care. 

This event (10am on Sunday, June 18) offers an opportunity to not only consider the origins and meaning of this day, but to reflect on Seneca Village, a predominately African-American community that existed before New York City created Central Park and long before we celebrated Juneteenth.

Visitors are encouraged to imagine how Seneca Village’s residents might have utilized this land to cultivate wellbeing. Activities include art-making with The Studio Museum in Harlem, Sugar Hill Children’s Museum, and Shanequa Benitez; self-care and movement with Harlem Yoga Studio, Asase Yaa, and Emotions Physical Theatre; contemplative reflection with music from AME Zion Church and jazz virtuosos IAMKHEMESTRY; and laughter from renowned comedians Seaton Smith, Joyelle Nicole Johnson, and Ethan Simmons-Patterson.


Battery Park City Authority's 7th annual Juneteenth Celebration returns this year on Saturday, June 17 with a family-friendly afternoon of history, art and music. The Federation of Black Cowboys share history, horsemanship and riding. And, yes, you can even take a pony ride (must be 3 years old or older for pony rides).

Other activities include a chance to paint your own Juneteenth flag, make a bandana with bright West African print fabric, and meet Glori B, a Brooklyn watercolorist who captures the African-American West in her art. All are encouraged to wear their best western-style or Juneteenth outfits and to bring a blanket and dinner basket.

Greenwich House Music School (16 Jones St.) will host a free Juneteenth Jubilee on Saturday, June 17 with music, games, storytelling and crafts. Activities are intended to "commemorate this historic day with an intergenerational investigation of the struggle toward freedom, the joy of liberation, and value of Black cultural exploration." 

This free outdoor celebration from 4 to 6pm is for New Yorkers of all ages and hosted in partnership with Ars Nova and Little Mozart Foundation.


Celebrate Juneteenth at the Museum of the City of New York on Saturday, June 17 with a powerful concert by Queen Esther. 

Described by Vanity Fair as "a brutal, original, explosive singer," Queen Esther will perform selections from her substantial body of alt-country, jazz, Black Americana to fearlessly subvert all-too-common historical narratives, revealing the powerfully triumphant resolve of Black folk in the 19th century.

Tickets cost $15 and can be purchased here.

The Broadway League’s Black to Broadway Initiative presents the third annual Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth concert, a free outdoor event centered around Black artistry and community. 

Black culture and expression will be celebrated by Black Broadway artists performing songs, dances, and spoken word accompanied by live music provided by The Music Performance Trust Fund.

This free 90-minute concert is open to all and takes place on Sunday, June 18, 11am-12:30pm (rain or shine). 


Get your game on at "Trivia For Us: A Mind Game for the Culture." This trivia night held on Juneteenth (Monday, June 19) at Midnight Theater promises questions about Black history, Black pop culture, music, film, TV, art and science.

The gameshow is hosted by Trivia For Us founders Deydra Bringas and Shakira Hodges, two Brooklynites who wanted to bring diversity and inclusion to the trivia gaming world.

Tickets cost $25-$45 and you'll get a chance to win up to $500.

  • Theater
  • Theater & Performance

Lincoln Center's Summer for the City festival is back this summer with hundreds of free events, from silent discos and outdoor film screenings to queer music festivals and orchestra performances, and more.

For Juneteenth, there are two special events both held on Sunday, June 18:

— "To a Garden Luxuriously Verdant (Enameled with Countless Flowerings)" begins at 7pm with multi-genre, full campus Juneteenth celebration. It's curated and directed by Carl Hancock Rux and includes dance, music, and a gospel silent disco.

— "Let Freedom Dance: Hosted by Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis" begins at 9pm. This Juneteenth dance party is hosted by Reverend Dr. Jacqui Lewis with a silent disco of reimagined gospel music by DJ Rimarkable.

  • Things to do
  • Events & Festivals

Rooftop Films is back for the season with a fresh slate of independent films screened across all five boroughs.

For Juneteenth Weekend, Rooftop Films will screen Sam Pollard & Ben Shapiro’s Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes in Von King Park. The screening will help kickoff a centennial celebration of the great jazz drummer—just blocks from the Bed Stuy home where he grew up.

The film begins at 9pm on Saturday, June 17, followed by a Q-and-A with the filmmakers and Roach's family. RSVP here.


Celebrate freedom, entrepreneurship and community empowerment at the Juneteenth Night Market. It's hosted on Monday, June 19, at the Laurelton LIRR Station in Queens.

Indulge in delectable treats from food truckk and check out unique handmade items for sale. The market not only creates economic opportunities for local entrepreneurs and small businesses but also pays homage to the contributions and resilience of the Black community throughout Queens' history.

It's free to attend; register in advance online.

The annual Juneteenth in Queens festival is dedicated to honoring Black culture and creation. The event features a Black-owned marketplace, food, seminars, live music and an art display that centers on a rich legacy of African Americans.

Activities are held at Roy Wilkins Park in St. Albans. It's free to attend.


On Juneteenth weekend, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture will convene book lovers and their favorite authors for a community-wide celebration. This event on Saturday, June 17 expands on the Center’s 98-year tradition of championing authors of African descent from across the nation and the world.

In light of current book bannings, the festival celebrates Black authorship and reading as a form of resistance. The festival, which activates author readings, panel discussions, and workshops will range from prose to poetry, comic books to young adult novels, fiction, zines, and nonfiction.

Events will be held outdoors on 135th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and Malcolm X Boulevard.

This special Juneteenth event called "storytime at the cell-a night for Black stories" honors Black voices and centers Black stories. It's hosted by Ayla Sullivan (New Visions Fellowship) with musical guest Amyra Leon (Nuyorican Slam Team).

Here's how it works: The evening is "meant to bring us all together through the communal art forms of storytelling and live music." Between sets, audience members are encouraged to get up on stage and tell a story relating to that evening's theme with just one rule: The story must be true.

The event's hosted at Nancy Manocherian's the cell theatre (338 West 23rd Street) on Monday, June 19. It's free to attend, with an open bar and refreshments; reserve a ticket here.


  • Movies
  • Movies

The beloved Movie Nights series is coming back to Bryant Park this summer, and it’s got an exciting new partner: Paramount+.

On Monday, June 19, see Dream Girls. Plus, guests can enjoy food and drink curated by the Hester Street Fair, which will host a pop-up artisanal market each Monday at Bryant Park's Fountain Terrace featuring a rotating lineup of vendors hailing from all five boroughs.

  • Movies
  • Movies

For a truly elevated movie-going experience this summer, catch a film at Rooftop Cinema Club in midtown. 

For Juneteenth, Rooftop Cinema Club is screening Love & Basketball and Get Out, both on Monday, June 19. No matter which movie you pick, the city's skyline serves as a stunning backdrop, as the cinema's located on the Skylawn rooftop of the Embassy Suites Hotel on West 37th Street. But don't worry about background noise because each guest gets their own wireless headphones.

As for pricing, tickets range from $19.50 to $28.50, and you can reserve a lounge chair or a premium lounge chair. You can check out the entire season's schedule and buy tickets right here.


The Museum of the Moving Image is celebrating Juneteenth with a weekend of performances, film screenings, media-making activities, and a gallery talk. Activities run from June 17-19. 

Here's what's on tap:

— A matinee screening of The Wiz where you can learn more about the iconic performances of legendary Black stars Diana Ross and Lena Horne.

— Before or after the film, stop by the Media and Game Labs for fun activities related to The Wiz and Afrofuturism, including stop-motion animation, green-screen performances, game design, arcade games, and more.

— See a performance by young, aspiring dancers and drummers performing excerpts from their upcoming production Growing Up Saturdays (June 18 at 12pm). 

— Bop to beats by DJ Crazy Ron, a member of MoMI’s Neighborhood Council, who will spin the beats and rhythms of pioneering Black musicians in celebration of creative freedom (June 18 at 3pm).

— Hear from local performer Renée Brailsford, who will discuss her experience as a dancer in The Wiz among artifacts from the film (June 19 at 12:30pm).

— Chat with local musician Jerome Jordan who will re-bridge the gap between the future and the past on a construction of pulsating air and vibrating wire that speaks of freedom beyond time and place. (June 19 at 3:15pm). 

More info and tickets here. 

Brooklyn Choreographer Jamel Gaines and his dance theater company, Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet (JGCO), will mark Juneteenth with a program commemorating defining events in African American history and the fight for equal rights.

See this powerful show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Sunday, June 18 at 2p.m. The multimedia production will include dance, theatre, music, spoken word, film, photography and costuming. Tickets are $30 and are available here.

  • Art
  • Art

A hefty, both in form and in function, new piece of art has taken up residence on Governors Island.

"Moving Chains," by Charles Gaines, is a giant, 110-foot-tall kinetic sculpture featuring sturdy chains that rotate overhead. The monument "addresses the reality of systemic racism in the United States of America through embodied and visual experience and provides critical historical context on our extraordinary political division today."

The new project is the island's largest public art commission to date and you can see all summer this summer. Hours are 12-5pm on Thursday and Friday and 10am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday. It's presented in partnership with Times Square Arts. Presenting partners are Creative Time and Governors Island Arts. 


Juneteenth UNITYFEST, a BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! concert on June 17, will feature JOE and Stokley.

In partnership with the Robert Randolph Foundation, this annual event brings together diverse voices in honor of Juneteenth and its impact on Black and American culture. Seven-time GRAMMY nominee JOE is an accomplished writer and vocalist of smooth and sultry gospel-influenced R&B productions with occasional hip-hop beats. GRAMMY-nominated singer-songwriter and former Mint Condition frontman Stokley will open. This night of music and storytelling celebrates the rich layers of Black history and Black futurity.

Tickets are free; reserve yours here.

This spoken word and open mic event asks one major question: What does Juneteenth mean to you? The event kicks off Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning's spoken word series, which bears the theme of "freedom" this year.

Five spoken word artists will grab the mic and express Juneteenth in their words. There will be an open mic in the last 30 minutes of the event. The event begins at 7pm on Monday, June 19 at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center.


In celebration of Juneteenth, Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center (THPAC) will present The Gospel According to THPAC at the Central Baptist Church of NYC (166 W. 92nd Street) on June 17 and 18.

The dance narrative tells the story of Black America from pre-slavery to the modern-day Black Lives Matter movement through spoken word, gospel music and dance. Members of the Church will join in on song and deliver powerful spoken word dialogue along with THPAC dancers doing choreography by Will A. Ervin, Jr., Jamel Gaines and Walter Rutledge. 

The work is inspired by THPAC Executive Chairman Alex Smith Jr's mother and her spiritual journey through the church as a Black Woman and Civil Rights advocate—she was a part of the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott. It honors her legacy and others like her by bringing the community together to cherish and learn from the Black experience and to advocate for a more equitable world. It is about faith, perseverance and the collective strength communities of color have when joined together.

This show at 54 Below explores the joys, sorrows, pains, and peculiarities surrounding being Black in America. Producers Keisha Gilles and Keitra Bri Wilson, along with an all-star cast, also explore their own journey toward unearthing what Juneteenth means to them.

The show's on Monday, June 19 with ticket prices ranging from $25-$60, plus at $25 food and drink minimum.


Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York will host a special Shabbat Service Friday, June 16 in honor of Juneteenth. The Friday service, beginning at 6pm, will include remarks from special guest Senator Cory Booker, the junior United States senator from New Jersey. The in-person event is open to all and will be live streamed for the public through the Temple’s website and social media.

As the event listing says, "As Jews, we have a special appreciation of the importance of commemorating emancipation, as we do every Passover."

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