19 Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth in Chicago This Year
Here are the local events and festivities to help honor the holiday’s indelible significance.
The longest-running African American holiday, Juneteenth, is quickly approaching, and here in Chicago, a host of parties and events will keep you celebrating all weekend long. Juneteenth, or Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day, for over a century has been a time of Black celebration in this country, but only last year was recognized as a federal holiday… and it’s about damn time! The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, the day troops entered Galveston Texas to ensure that every enslaved Black American was freed, though slavery had been abolished for over two years prior with the issue of the Emancipation Proclamation. The date is a harrowing reminder of our country’s past, and while the holiday does not shy away from that history, it is first and foremost a day to celebrate Black achievements, culture, joy, resilience, and pride. In Chicago, there are countless ways to celebrate from block parties and bike rides to parades and live music events. Here are 19 ways to celebrate Juneteenth this year.
Sunday, June 19, 11 am - 4 pm
200 S. Michigan Avenue
Nothing says community more than biking together for a purpose. The folks over at Black JoyRide, an organization that recognizes the mental and physical health benefits of biking, aim to get Black folks on bikes and this year’s organized ride is going to be a good one. The route will start on Michigan Avenue near Millennium Park at the former Johnson Publishing Building—the first African American-built structure in Chicago that held John H. Johnson’s influential African American publishing company—and make its way south to Hyde Park ending at the DuSable Museum where outside activities like grilling and music will be taking place. Bring a helmet, your sunglasses, water, snacks, and of course, your bike.
Sunday, June 19, 11 am - 2:30 pm
LuluLemon 944 North Avenue
How about starting your day with a little self-love before the Juneteenth evening’s festivities? Through Slo ’Mo events, Chelsea McFadden will be leading a relaxation yoga practice with mats and blocks provided by LuluLemon at 11 am followed by a 1 pm meditative sound bath led by Tune in with Tristin. Both events will get you feeling tingly, nurtured, and calm.
Cost: $20 per class or $30 for both
Sunday, June 19, 5 pm - late
Moneygun will be hosting a lively night of dance with music kicking off at 8 pm by DJ Police State. Plus, in the spirit of pride, the bar is donating $1 to Brave Space Alliance from each rotating specialty cocktail sold from their Monthlygun cocktail list. Drinking a cocktail and supporting a good cause? Yes, please.
Cost: No cover
Friday, June 17, 1 pm - 3 pm and 6 - 8 pm; Saturday, June 18, 4 - 6 pm; Sunday, June 19, 7:30 - 9:30 pm
Highly respected producer, speaker, host, and professor Ted William III is behind this stunning two-hour musical theater performance, 1619: The Journey of a People, The Musical. The show artfully portrays how generations of African Americans have fought for equality from the Great Migration to current social justice movements. Incorporating a diversity of musical styles from hip hop to jazz, and featuring a fantastic cast of dancers, actors, and singers, this show is designed to energize and inspire.
Cost: $35 - $69
Saturday, June 18—registration starts 8:30 pm - 9:15 pm
This is the second year that Peace Runner 773 will be hosting their Juneteenth 5k walk/run. Peace Runner 773 is a Chicago non-profit organization that advocates for health and wellness in Chicago’s west side through adult and youth programming. The 3.1-mile route will start near Garfield Park and end on the football field. After running, expect a wind-down accompanied by live music and community bonding. All proceeds will go towards Garfield Park Gators Youth & Football.
Saturday, June 18, 11 am - 3 pm
Harry S. Truman
Non-profit organization Voice of the People, which focuses on affordable housing for Uptown residents, has organized this Juneteenth Jubilee and Community Resource Fair for the Uptown community. The Juneteenth fair aims to get neighbors and friends to congregate and celebrate the holiday through games, food, live music, and more. Proof of uptown residence is not required, so come one come all.
Sunday, June 19, 11 am - 8 pm
The DuSable Museum and Chance the Rapper will be presenting a day and evening full of food, drinks, conversation, history, art, games, horseback rides, and special performances. Along with the festivities, the historic museum’s doors will be open free to all guests. Among the number of inspiring exhibits on display is the current Quilting Exhibition, a stunning quilt made by Melvina Young, a former slave. Whatever you do, don’t forget to BYOG (Bring Your Own Grill) for an epic community cookout.
Saturday, June 18, 12 pm - 6 pm
Back in 2020, the Village Leadership Academy students succeeded in renaming this park to Douglass Park to honor the work of Anna and Fredrick Douglass. This year Juneteenth Village Fest will be commemorating African Americans’ liberation from slavery by hosting festivities in the newly named Douglass Park through It Takes A Village Family of Schools (ITAV). The day will include entertainment from a main stage with a music performance by Ric Wilson, stand-up by Leon Rogers, dance by Redd’s Angelz with Hiplet Ballerinas, and magic by Spellbinder, to name a few. If that wasn’t enough, kid- and adult-friendly activities like free carnival rides, games, vendor booths, a petting zoo, face painting, and rock climbing, are bound to keep your head spinning.
Saturday, June 18, 11 am - 5 pm
91st & Prospect
Celebrate Black culture, music, food, creativity, and more at this lively community picnic taking place in the beautiful Dan Ryan Woods. The event will include Back owned vendors, Black art, music, film, and child-centric entertainment. Also featured will be a set by DJ Jeff Da Illest, and live Afrobeat performances by Queen Drie, Jesse Nation, and Victor Coke.
Cost: $10 for adults and $5 for 18 and under
Saturday, June 18, 10 am
Starting at Robert Crown Center area lot in Evanston
At 95, Opal Lee remains one of the most influential Juneteenth organizers. Some even consider her the grandmother of Juneteenth. Her decades-long work organizing walks across the nation and her message that this holiday is about unity has helped push Juneteenth to be recognized as a federal holiday. This year, Chicago will host The National Opals Walk for Freedom campaign and is lucky to have Opal walking in our streets to celebrate the actualization of her work. Make a banner and head north to witness the icon herself.
Cost: Free. Pre-registration with donations appreciated.
June 17 - 19, 11 am - 8 pm
This three-day event held at Garfield Park has a lineup of family-friendly activities like live music, educational workshops, and no shortage of free food and good times. Highlights of the weekend include a flag-raising ceremony on Friday, educational workshops on Saturday, and a father’s day grill off with live musical entertainment on Sunday, Juneteenth.
Thursday, June 16, 6 pm
If for some reason you can’t leave your house this weekend but still want to take part in the spirit of Juneteenth, the Chicago Public Library is hosting the event Voices for Justice Juneteenth Celebration, where writer, poet, and scholar, Clint Smith, will discuss his book, How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America. The event will be live-streamed through the Chicago Public Library’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.
Saturday, June 18, 6 - 9 pm
The Joy Room Chicago
When you're looking for a calmer, more contemplative weekend event, abstract painter Victoria Slone’s exhibit, All That They Carried, seeks to stimulate conversations about the stories of those who were enslaved in the United States and honor their legacy. All proceeds from the exhibit will be donated to the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Oppression.
Sunday, June 19, 12 pm - 10 pm
The Woodlawn is hosting a Juneteenth Block Party this year, and it is going to be jam-packed with activities like an adult dance class, father’s day tournament, comedy showcase, talent search, DJs, prize competitions, local vendors, photo booth, karaoke, and more. In the evening, the celebration will continue with an adults-only party with live music and drinks.
Saturday, June 18th, 7 pm - 11 pm
99th Floor of Willis Tower
If you’ve been looking for a reason to get fancy, don’t hesitate to grab tickets to this inaugural Emancipation Ball organized by Moor's Brewing Co. and Disbəlēf Tequila. The black-tie event will have a special appearance from Chicago Bear’s reporter Herb Howard, and music by DJ Sean Mac and DJ Bamn. The ball will have an open bar, hors d'oeuvres, a Black art exhibition, a spectacular sunset view, and a fireworks display. There will also be a collective toast to excellence because, of course.
Cost: $150 - $400
June 19, 1 - 5 pm
Harold Washington Cultural Center
This event is sure to get you in the mood to celebrate Juneteenth with a lineup of live dance from M.A.D.D Rhythms, Chicago Tap Theater,Blu Rhythm Crew, and The Happiness Club. To boot, the event will also have workshops, raffles, art, and complimentary food.
Sunday, June 19, 2 pm
The Promontory in Hyde Park will be hosting a Black-owned business pop-up market where vendors will be selling many items from clothing, beauty products, art, and more. Make sure to come hungry as there will be a lineup of food vendors dishing out their specialties.
Sunday, June 19, 4 - 9 pm
3200 W. Douglas Boulevard, between Kedzie and Albany
Bring your dad to this kickback-style Juneteenth and father’s day celebration in Lawnsdale hosted by Light Up Lawndale. If you’re the competitive type, you’ll be excited to know that there will be potato bag sack races, double dutch contests, hopscotch, and hula hoop contests. More laid-back activities include live music, a mini car show, and DJ appearances.
Saturday, June 18, 11 am - 3 pm
UCAN's Drost Harding Campus
This UCAN Juneteenth celebration will uplift the lives of our Black community through a round-up of undeniably fun kid (and adult) activities like chess games, a waterslide, reptile petting zoo, face painting, and a bounce house. There also will be performances by Congo Square Theatre, Celestial Ministries Drum Line, and community storytelling. Local vendors will be selling everything from body care, and books, to barbecue and soul food.