Celebrate Juneteenth in LA This Year with Food, Music, and Much More

From an all-ages roller jam to a free resource fair and more, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Juneteenth this year.

B-Hen Block Party
Photo by @FelishaCarassco55, courtesy of B-Hen Block Party
Photo by @FelishaCarassco55, courtesy of B-Hen Block Party

On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, with 2,000 Union troops, breaking the news that the Civil War had ended and the 250,000 people who remained enslaved in the state were now free. This announcement came two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Still, due to a small number of Union troops, his Executive Order was largely not enforced in Texas, where many slaveholders moved to evade the order. The day became known as Juneteenth, though it is also called Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day.

Around the same time the following year in Texas, celebrations began to take root, held mainly by local church groups. These festivities expanded across Southern states in the following decades, often involving large spreads of red foods, gospel choirs, and dancing. Juneteenth gained further momentum during the Great Migration and the Civil Rights Movement, with celebrations happening in Black communities all over America.

Yet, despite being the oldest holiday celebrating the freedom of people enslaved in the United States, outside of Black communities, Juneteenth was not a widely recognized holiday until recent years. When the video of George Floyd’s murder was released just before Memorial Day 2020, it spurred a nationwide reckoning and a call for greater accountability addressing how racism has entrenched itself throughout American society. When Juneteenth arrived in the following weeks, many took it as an opportunity to learn more about the little-known historical event. In June 2021, after unanimously passing the Senate, President Joe Biden signed a bill designating Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

Juneteenth falls on a Monday this year, which makes for a great three-day weekend for some now that the holiday is federally recognized. That also means there are even more ways to celebrate in LA, from long-held annual festivals to outdoor concerts, comedy shows, art shows, and more.

During these celebrations, let’s not forget the commitments we made to show up for our local Black communities and support the fight for equality and justice. We still have so far to go, and we need everyone’s help if we hope to create authentic and long-lasting change.

Monday, June 12–Monday, June 19
Gather For Good is hosting its annual Juneteenth bake sale this weekend, with an array of LA chefs and restaurants participating by creating unique, one-of-a-kind pies. Some participants will host raffles, while others will sell whole pies, hand pies, and pie slices, with all proceeds split between Peace 4 Kids, an LA-based non-profit dedicated to creating consistency, stability, and trust for the needs of South LA youth in foster care and Everytown, an organization working to end gun violence. Some 2023 contributors include Brandon Gray of Brandoni Pepperoni, Jose Mariscal of The Rose Venice, and Daphane DeLone of Connie & Ted’s. Visit the website to browse the different pies and make a purchase.

Saturday, June 17 
Virginia Avenue Park, Santa Monica
The City of Santa Monica has a long history of celebrating Juneteenth, thanks to resident LaVerne Ross, who approached the city 31 years ago and encouraged them to recognize a holiday that her family had celebrated in Texas. From 1 to 7 pm, this year’s free event will open with local musician Sonny Green playing a lively set of classic soul and blues, followed by a participatory drumming performance led by Chazz Ross and Arise Roots, a prominent American roots reggae band. The event will culminate with KLYMAXX, an American all-female pop/R&B band featuring Cheryl Cooley. This year’s theme is Coming Together in Appreciation, Reconciliation, and Commemoration, and it will also feature a CRJ Live Community Stage sponsored by Committee for Racial Justice. There’s also a children’s area, food vendors, community information booths, and over 20 vendors ranging from jewelry to original artwork.

Academy LA 6021 Hollywood Blvd
Saturday, June 17
Academy LA is offering a full day of DJs, R&B, afro-beats, and deep house. Food vendors such as Vurger Guyz, NY Chopped Cheese, and more will also be there. This Juneteenth event welcomes everyone who has a love for LA culture and wants to come together for a positive vibe. With three stages and over 15 different performers, there’s something for everyone’s tastes. The event is 21+ and runs from 2 pm to 8 pm. Early tickets are $10, $20 the day of, and $40 for a VIP ticket that lets you skip the line.

B-Hen Block Party
Photo by @FelishaCarassco55, courtesy of B-Hen Block Party

Saturday, June 17
1000 E 60th St, Los Angeles, CA 90001
Curator Brian Henry, creative director Davon Johnson, and executive producer Lulit Solomon have come together for this year’s B-Hen Block Party, celebrating the vibrancy of Black joy, identity, and self-expression while recognizing the creative voices that power change across local communities. It’s the perfect event for adult Juneteenth celebrations, with a 21+ event from 9 pm to 2 am. All are welcome at this party that eschews a VIP section, guest list, and bottle service on purpose, with past editions attended by celebs like Brandy and Taraji P. Henson. Tickets are $49 (or $79 for a Fast Pass ticket) and can be purchased online.

Saturday, June 17
1245 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Street Food Cinema presents outdoor screenings of historic films. They’re bringing Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing to the Los Angeles State Historic Park in Downtown LA this Juneteenth. The event will also feature MC Chellz Evette, DJ L-double-E, and food trucks, including Belly’s Sliders, Caribbean Grill, District Burger, MexiBachi, Nacho Me Vegan, Reality Eatzz, and more. Doors open at 5:30 pm, and the screening starts at 8:30 pm. Leashed dogs are also welcome! Tickets are $22 for general admission, $27 for reserved sections, and $75 if you want to make an announcement on the big screen.

Saturday, June 17
The Blackbird House, Culver City Celebrate The Blackbird House's annual Juneteenth Open House. A Black-owned private membership collective, The Blackbird House has a curated event that includes a Vision Board Station, a pop-up portrait studio for professional portfolio images, and Chef Q’s Intentional Chefism Food Truck. The collective is intended to support WOC and BIPOC, as well as their allies. Get a taste of what they’re about at this open house from 11 am to 3 pm.

Saturday, June 17
Pasadena City Hall, 100 N Garfield Ave, Pasadena, CA
Serving as the official kickoff to the summer series, this skate event is all-ages and beginner-friendly, with skate rentals, a live DJ, vendors, and food. Stop by between 4 and 9 pm to join in the fun. Best of all, the event is free this year.

SoulfulofNoise Presents: Juneteenth Festival
Courtesy of Soulfulofnoise

Saturday, June 17
Mayberry Park, Whittier, CA
This free festival is intended to uplift the community with financial literacy, entrepreneurship, technology, health and wellness workshops, and free haircuts from hair care professionals. Ongoing from 12 to 8 pm, there will also be local vendors, food trucks, games, and more as the event seeks to demonstrate the power of the Black dollar and raise funds for several youth organizations. While tickets are free, you can still RSVP here for more information.

Sunday, June 18
CAAM 600 State Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90037
The California African American Museum is hosting an all-ages outdoor wellness day double event! From 10 am to 11 am, move through a 60-minute flow with yoga and meditation teacher Constance Hartwell. From 11 am to noon, experience the healing possibilities of a sound bath with Sol & Sound. No previous experience is necessary, but your own yoga mat is. The event is free and first-come, first-served. You can RSVP here.

Sunday, June 18
The Intersection of Vermont Ave. and West Century Blvd., South LA
Wake up early for this Juneteenth celebration from WalkGood LA founder Etienne Maurice. Maurice will lead a one-hour vinyasa flow. WalkGood LA has built an incredible community over the last three years, even expanding their yoga sessions to the expansive Kenneth Hahn Park, but they’re bringing it to the streets of South LA this year for a donation-based celebration that aims to educate guests on the significance of Juneteenth and honor history while giving back to the present-day community. Proceeds will go toward the WalkGood Inc. organization. The flow begins at 10 am.

Sunday, June 18
LA Center Studios, 500 South Bixel St., Los Angeles 90017
Family-friendly Black on the Block festival will be celebrating Juneteenth alongside its second anniversary with an event that features over 150 Black-owned businesses, live performances by Tia Corine and Phabo, a headlining DJ set by Jae Murphy, games, activations, art, a food court, bars, photo booths, and more. Tickets will not be available at the door this year, so be sure to buy them in advance. Kids 12 and under get in free. There’s also a VIP section this year that features a faster entrance, an open wine bar from 1 to 3 pm, and access to the rooftop lounge with seating and cabanas.

Sunday, June 18
Treehouse, Downtown
Take in the views and groove to hip hop, r&b, throwback jams, soca, dancehall, and singalong hits on Treehouse’s sunny rooftop from 4 to 9:30 pm. Admission is free until 4:30 pm with RSVP.

Leimert Park Rising: Juneteenth Celebration
Photo by Dee Williams for Thrillist

Monday, June 19
331 Degnan Blvd, Leimert Park Village
The historically Black neighborhood of Leimert Park has been hosting an annual Juneteenth Celebration since 2018, honoring Black freedom with a free day of art, music, food, and education in one of the most well-attended events you’ll find in the city. This year’s lineup will feature a live performance from Jazsmine Sullivan that will be live-streamed for those who can’t attend. There will also be plenty of opportunities to network, admire art, dance, nosh on pan-African cuisine, browse handcrafted wares, and more. Follow them on Instagram for more information.

Monday, June 19
The Greek Theatre
The Greek Theatre is hosting A Global Celebration of Freedom, the second annual celebration of Black excellence with an all-star lineup of musicians, featuring performances by Miguel, Charlie Wilson, Kirk Franklin, Nelly, Jodeci, SWV, Chloe Bailey, Coi Leray, Muni Long, and more. In addition, Vice President Kamala Harris will join the event to deliver remarks. Adam Blackstone and Questlove will provide musical direction. Gates open at 3:30 pm, and performances begin at 5 pm. The event will also be broadcast live on CNN at 8 pm ET.

Monday, June 19
3320 W. 43rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90008 - Leimert Park
Presented by Sole Folks and Crowns and Hops, this celebration of Black joy features premium craft beverages, community, and music. There will be a sneaker giveaway from Proto Collective, a live DJ set, and live performances by Black Art Distrkt. The event runs from 12 pm to 10 pm.

Monday, June 19
The Elysian 1944 Riverside Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90039 - Silver Lake
This show features five Black comedians forcing a group of white comedians to sit and make up for the two-year gap between the Emancipation Proclamation and Juneteenth. Featuring comedians Camirin Farmer, Kristin Wallace, Brodie Reed, Ru Anderson, and Bri Giger, this hilarious event is not to be missed. The show starts at 9:30 pm.

Monday, June 19
Parade starts at La Brea and Manchester, Inglewood
This year marks the fourth annual Juneteenth Drive-Thru Parade, hosted by community organization Juneteenth in LA, which aims to curate celebratory Juneteenth programming for local Black communities. Their first event took place in South Central with over 200 registered cars and this year’s event is expected to be even bigger. Though car registration is closed, you can still show up to cheer and watch the parade, which begins promptly at 1 pm at the intersection of La Brea and Manchester and ends at Inglewood City Hall.

Sunday, June 24
4395 Leimert Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90008
Open Arms Food Pantry & Resource Center is hosting this Juneteenth Community Support Festival from 11 am to 6 pm to support parents with infants or toddlers. This is a giveaway for children in LA County, and documents must be uploaded to receive items. The event is free, but you can register here. Have some useful things you’d like to get rid of? The organization is looking for donations too!

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Ashley Ray-Harris is a LA transplant who will only consider herself a native when she has her children here. She’s a TV writer and stand-up comic whose work has been featured in Bust, Vulture and the New York Times. She was a 2021 HBO Queer Comic to Watch and 2023 BET Black Woman Comic to Watch. Her writing has appeared in The Cut, New York Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar and Cosmopolitan.