Juneteenth Events in Virginia

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.  

In 1865 slavery was common practice in Texas even though President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation had been in effect since January 1, 1863. On June 19, 1865 Union General Gordon Granger and his 2,000 troops released Galveston, TX slaves into freedom - some of the last slaves to realize their destiny.

A range of activities were provided to entertain the masses, many of which continue in tradition today.

Celebrate Juneteenth in Virginia at these events across the state. 

2nd Annual Juneteenth Freedom Day Festival, The Urban League of Hampton Roads
June 19, 2023, 1-9 PM, High Street Landing, Portsmouth

The theme of 2023 will focus on the importance of Mental Health Wellness and showcase organizations that provide mental health services and resources. In collaboration with the city of Portsmouth, the event features live local and national music performances, minority-owned businesses, soul food vendors, Black artists, children's activities, and more. In addition, private tents will provide opportunities for festival attendees to have introductory counseling sessions as a catalyst to continue mental health wellness.  

Walking Tour: African-American History on the Elizabeth River Trail
June 10, 2023, 7-8 PM, Elizabeth River Travel, Norfolk

The Norfolk Tour Company celebrates and remembers on June 10 with a walk on the Elizabeth River Trail that explores African American history along the Elizabeth River. This free walking tour will partly cover Norfolk's role in the slave trade, along with some of the historical moments, heroes, and sites of the pivotal history of the African American Experience in South Hampton Roads. This tour is free and open to the public, with no registration required.

Third Annual Juneteenth Celebration
June 17, 2023, 12-6 PM, Ida Lee Park, Loudoun

The club hosts the Juneteenth Celebration 2023 on the spacious grounds of Ida Lee Park in Leesburg. Starting at noon, the event will feature live music, a range of tasty food from local and regional chefs, food trucks, and children’s activities such as face painting, tug of war, balloon toss, and a potato sack race. A celebration of Juneteenth, the annual June 19 public holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in 1865, the event is expected to attract more than 2,000 people, with some – like Irvin Greene himself – coming from as far away as North Carolina, where he now lives.“It’s always good coming back to the Burg,” said Greene, who traces his roots in and around Leesburg back three centuries. “The club is all about bringing people together and having a good time. And while it’s a celebration of People of Color, it is also for everyone, regardless of appearance. I hope everyone attends.”

Jazz: A Juneteenth Celebration at Old City Cemetery
June 16, 2023, 6-8 pm, Old City Cemetery’s Earley Memorial Shrub Garden, Lynchburg

Join one of Virginia’s oldest public cemeteries and its celebration of Juneteenth on June 16, 2023. Celebrate with theater and music in Old City Cemetery’s Earley Memorial Shrub Garden for a cultural and educational program to kick off Lynchburg’s Juneteenth Coalition weekend. 

In a five-minute vignette, Tamika Younger will portray an Old City Cemetery’s black resident Lottie Payne Stratton (1902-1965), telling her story as the last known ticket taker at the segregated box office at Lynchburg’s historic Academy Theatre. Following Ms. Younger’s performance, the Isaac Williams Jazz Combo featuring the city’s native son, Isaac Williams, will present a program of jazz (two segments of forty-five minutes each), a musical genre unique for the recognition of June 19, 1865, with its roots in the songs sung by enslaved African Americans.

Juneteenth in the Park 
June 17, 2023, 12 to 6:30 PM, Town Point Park, Norfolk

An annual event focusing on career and professional development, Juneteenth in the park acts as an educational festival to help the community. This one-day event organized by Festevents hosts interviews, health, wellness, and finance education sessions, live music, presentations, and networking opportunities. The event features cultural outreach, family-friendly activities, health & financial wellness & education, music exhibitions, and more.

Shenandoah Valley Juneteenth Organization’s Juneteenth Celebration
June 17, 2023, 11-5 PM, Montgomery Hall Park, Staunton

Because Juneteenth is a time to tell the story of the bravery, courage, and determination of freedom fighters like Harriet Tubman, the first and only woman now and then to lead military men into a bold raid into enemy territory, Staunton, Virginia is celebrating her this year. This unique Juneteenth celebration asks if Harriet Tubman was the first African American and female navy seal. This year Mooneyne will recount the triumphs of Harriet Tubman, especially her lesser-known part in the union army. The program will help with the history of Montgomery Hall Park, a  former plantation established as a community park for African-American citizens during segregation.          

Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom at Booker T. Washington National Monument
June 17, 2023, Westlake Corner

The Booker T. Washington National Monument has been commemorating Juneteenth with a free, community gospel music celebration since 2002. Dr. Booker T. Washington remembered the great day of emancipation in his autobiography, Up from Slavery, stating “My mother, who was standing by my side, leaned over and kissed her children, while tears of joy ran down her cheeks. She explained to us what it all meant, that this was the day for which she had been so long praying but fearing that she would never live to see.”

Explore more Juneteenth events in Virginia below.