On June 19, 1865, news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Galveston, Texas, and the last enslaved people in America were free. To commemorate the historic event, there are parades, vendor fairs, and festivals around town.

 Scotland Juneteenth Heritage Festival

June 15- June 19

location_on Bethesda and Potomac

Montgomery County has 80 historic Black communities, and the Scotland Juneteenth Heritage Festival celebrates the area’s heritage. Over a five day span, there will be several events  throughout Bethesda and Potomac, including youth sports clinics, a 5K race, lectures about history, and the first-ever Juneteenth fireworks show (free+).

Juneteenth Freedom at the Rock

June 15

location_on Germantown

Germantown’s BlackRock Center for the Arts is throwing a 10-hour event boasting outdoor concerts from local soul groups DuPont Brass and Big Tony and Trouble Funk; African and hip-hop dance workshops; film screenings; food trucks; and a mobile exhibit from the Sandy Spring Slave Museum (free).

Juneteenth Black Heritage Walk

June 16

location_on Arlington

WalkArlington is hosting a heritage walking tour through Arlington. Tour guide Craig Syphax—a leader of the Black Heritage Museum—will guide guests through the history of sites like St. John’s Baptist Church, which is over a century old, and the Freedman’s Village Bridge, named in honor of a village where former enslaved people lived (free).

Celebrate Juneteenth in Alexandria

June 14-15, 19, 22

location_on Alexandria

Alexandria is hosting a number of events around the theme “A Time of Reflection and Rejoicing.” On June 14, the Grammy-nominated children’s entertainer Culture Queen will perform a family-friendly musical storytelling show. On June 15, there will be a Douglass Cemetery Remembrance ceremony. On June 19 in Market Square, attend a concert by the Washington Revels Jubilee Voices, and hear spoken word and storytelling from Oumie and Van Di Galloway. The festivities come to a close on June 22 at the Charles Houston Recreation Center, where there will be a vendor fair, a moon bounce, and more (free).

“Lincoln’s Toughest Decisions”

June 15, 19

location_onPresident Lincoln’s Cottage

Learn about President Abraham Lincoln’s development of the Emancipation Proclamation during this special program at President Lincoln’s Cottage. Participates will go on a guided tour through the cottage, and can debate and discuss “Lincoln’s Toughest Decisions” ($15).

Juneteenth for the City

June 19

location_on Anacostia

Celebrate Black liberation at Bread for the City’s Michelle Obama Southeast Center. The community block party welcomes families to shop a marketplace of Black-owned businesses, groove to go-go performances, line dance, play double dutch, and participate in educational sessions on Black culture (free).

“Topdog/Underdog” (Black Out Night)

June 19

location_on Bethesda

Get tickets to a Black Out performance—an evening meant for an entirely Black audience—of the Pulitzer-winning play Topdog/Underdog. Suzan-Lori Parks’s work tells the story of two brothers, named Lincoln and Booth, who are on a journey to discover their family identity and history ($25).

Juneteenth Freedom Celebration

June 19

location_on Smithsonian ACM

The Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum is celebrating with an all-day lineup of performances. Five musical acts will appear on the main stage, including singer Alex Vaughn, go-go group Too Much Talent Band, and DC’s viral Front Porch artist Noochie (free).

Annapolis Juneteenth Parade & Festival

June 22

location_on Annapolis

The fourth annual Juneteenth Parade kicks off at College Street and runs along West Street to Amos Garret Boulevard. After the parade, festivalgoers can catch live performances and grab a bite from the food trucks at Bates Athletic Complex (free).

Briana A. Thomas is a local journalist, historian, and tour guide who specializes in the research of D.C. history and culture. She is the author of the Black history book, Black Broadway in Washington, D.C., a story that was first published in Washingtonian in 2016.