12 Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth in NYC This Year

Events and festivities to help honor the holiday’s indelible significance.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, commemorates the day in 1865 when a group of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas finally learned that they were free from the institution of slavery—nearly two and half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. A century and a half later, after finally being recognized by the U.S. as a federal holiday in 2021, this year’s Juneteenth celebrations across NYC are brimming with vibrancy and community.

Along with supporting Black-owned restaurants across the boroughs (all year round, of course!) and partaking in the upcoming Black Restaurant Week from June 17 to July 3 (be sure to check out 67 Orange), there are plenty of festivities dedicated to this important day. From food markets and free concerts to museum exhibitions and a 5K run for a good cause, here are 12 ways to celebrate Juneteenth in NYC this year and honor the holiday’s indelible significance.

Museum of the Moving Image
Museum of the Moving Image | Massimo Salesi/Shutterstock

Friday, June 17 to Sunday, June 19
Perfect for an all-age outing, head over to the Museum of the Moving Image for a weekend-long media-making experience centered around The Princess and the Frog, which has become popular (since its release in 2009) for its whimsical animation and portrayal of Disney’s first Black-American princess. The main event, which inspires younger generations to step into the shoes of movie directors or producers, features the museum’s new media lab. Here, guests can green-screen themselves into the fantastical world of the film or learn how to design a virtual game that takes them on a magical adventure inspired by the movie. Alternatively, for anyone who wants to kick back and enjoy the film, screenings will be held at 2:15 pm on Friday, June 17, as well as 1 pm and 3 pm on Sunday, June 19.
Cost:Tickets from $15

Juneteenth NY Festival
Juneteenth NY Festival | Photo by saintsperspective

Friday, June 17 to Sunday, June 19
East New York
One special way to honor the day is by heading over to East New York for The 13th Annual Juneteenth NY Festival 2022. The event—which is centered around creating economic and creative opportunities for small, Black-owned businesses—will kick off with a virtual series that includes several panel discussions on family health and wellbeing; online photo booths; and special giveaways. The in-person portion of the program starts on Saturday, June 18, in Linden Park with live music by local talent; a range of vendors offering handmade goods; and a Festival Food Market filled with bites courtesy of NYC-based, Black-owned restaurants. For sports lovers, the famed local teams the Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty will also be hosting a basketball clinic with contests and drills for children aged 6-17. Wrapping up the weekend, on Sunday a fashion exhibition will shine a spotlight on hot new designers accompanied by a performance from R&B duo Zhané as well as Renée Neufville, with more to be announced.
Cost: Tickets are free

Performance at the Schomburg Center Literary Festival
Performance at the Schomburg Center Literary Festival | Photo by William Farrington

Saturday, June 18, 10:30 am–6 pm
East Harlem
Before a busy Sunday jam-packed with events, spend the day before exploring the culturally rich festival programming at the Schomburg Center Literary Festival. Founded in 1925 by Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, a Puerto Rican author and bibliophile, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is one of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. At the outdoor and indoor event, in addition to the flurry of a book and poem readings by prominent Black authors like Jason Reynolds and Roxane Gay, the day is also stacked up with activities including live music, yoga plus meditation, author signings, performances by the Harambee Dance Company, and more.
Cost: Tickets are free

Weeksville Heritage Center
Weeksville Heritage Center

Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19, 12 pm–7 pm
Crown Heights
Commemorating long held culinary traditions created by Black Texans celebrating their emancipation, the Juneteenth Food Festival at Weeksville Heritage Center showcases some of Brooklyn's most popular Black-owned restaurants. Serving up a wide range of dishes hailing from countries in Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, and America, participating eateries include Lakou Café, Dept of Culture Brooklyn, Patsy’s Rum Cake, and Greedi Vegan. In addition to stellar eats, there’s a marketplace filled with goods from local Black-owned small businesses and musical performances from a lineup of queer and transgender DJs curated by the Papi Juice collective.
Cost: Free

Sunday, June 19 from 11 am–4 pm
Pelham Bay Park
More than three times the size of Manhattan’s Central Park, the expansive and scenic Pelham Bay Park is NYC’s largest park property and also home to The 2nd Annual Juneteenth Family Day celebration. Here, guests will spend an easygoing afternoon participating in dance classes, yoga sessions, arts and crafts, face painting, and poetry readings courtesy of a collaborative effort from local businesses such as Bronx Poetry, Canvas Culture LLC, and The Rose Garden Events.
Cost: Free for entry

Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum

Sunday, June 19 from 11 am–7pm
Prospect Heights
For a day packed full of Juneteenth dedicated events that celebrate Black liberation, self-care, community, and artistic creativity, the Brooklyn Museum is a one-stop destination. The day’s itinerary starts at 11 am with the Good Company Bike Club’s Freedom Ride, followed by a 1 pm Kemetic breathwork and meditation workshop led by Maya Eberhart and Steven Rousseau, a range of poetry performances presented by The Breathing Space at 2 pm, and much more.
Cost: Free for entry, but RSVP is recommended

Sunday, June 19, 12 pm–2 pm
Central Park
Originally founded as The Juneteenth March in 2020, which was a peaceful march from Harlem to City Hall that highlighted the wide range of injustices and lack of reform for Black residents in NYC and across the U.S., this event has now evolved into the Juneteenth March 5K Run/Walk/Roll. With its change of purpose, all proceeds are now donated towards funding for The Harlem Community Center, which is a community center that offers services from more than 30 community-based organizations.
Cost: Payment is optional for registration, $25 donation is recommended

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

Sunday, June 19, 12 pm–5 pm
West Village
Well known across the boroughs as a a safe space and resource hub for the queer community since 1983, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center (commonly called “The Center”) continues its Pride Month celebrations with a vibrant Black of Center: Juneteenth Block Festival. Spread between 7th Avenue and Greenwich Avenue and hosted by Tyanne “CeCe” Banks-Ransom, a Queens native and the Career Developer at The Center, this event showcases Black LGBTQIA+ artists, storytellers, small businesses, and vendors, in addition to a range of interactive activities like readings, art workshops, musical sets by DJ Jamz, and discussion boards from members of the community.
Cost: Free for entry

Sunday, June 19, 12 pm–5 pm
As part of OSTUDIO at Night’s mission to provide a platform for emerging and respected chefs and creatives, this Bed-Stuy eatery will host a block party in honor of Juneteenth featuring dishes from chefs Nana Wilmot (Le Coucou, La Mercerie), Lana Lagomarsini (Gramercy Tavern, Daniel), and Deborah Jean (Le Coucou, Dominique Ansel Bakery). With tunes courtesy of DJ Roger Smith, this exciting collaborative menu includes Angel Biscuits with head hash gravy; Pork and Beef Ribs topped with tamarind barbecue sauce; and Black Eyed Pea Salad; as well as Haitian-style Orange Guava Pound Cake covered in a hibiscus glaze for dessert. A choice of wine and other specialty cocktails from OSTUDIO at Night will also be available for purchase. If you’re thinking of dropping by, a free RSVP is available online.
Cost: Food prices from $20; drinks from $5

Juneteenth In Queens
Juneteenth In Queens

Sunday, June 19, 12 pm–7 pm
St. Albans
The St. Albans neighborhood of Queens is a historically significant area that was once home to notable Black figures like Ella Fitzgerald, Jackie Robinson, Lena Horne, and many others. Now, the neighborhood is home to the third annual Juneteenth in Queens Festival in Roy Wilkins Park, featuring a range of health and wellness workshops, small Black-owned business vendors, games, and fun activities for children of all ages. Bites will be provided by local Queens eateries (all to be announced soon via the website).
Cost: Free for entry

Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden
Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden

Sunday, June 19, 12 pm–8 pm
Randall Manor
Led by The Jubilee Collective, a group of Black community-based organizations that purposefully teamed up to create programing for Juneteenth based on Staten Island, along with the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, the 2nd Annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival presents a holiday packed full of performances, activities, and vendors in collaboration with more than a dozen NYC-based Black-owned organizations and businesses. Located on the South Meadow Lawn of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, slated on the calendar this year is the Motherland Fashion Show, a performance starring rapper and singer Fyütch, and a drum circle show by artists from the Universal Temple of the Arts.
Cost: Free for entry

Sunday, June 19, 6:30 pm–10 pm
Prospect Park
Taking over the Lena Horne Bandshell in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, the Juneteenth Unity Fest 2022 Concert aims to amplify community stories through music and artistic performances. With a growing lineup of lauded performers including gospel singer Tye Tribbett, vocalist Deborah Cox, and singer-songwriter Mali Music, this BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! show co-presented by the Robert Randolph Foundation is a great way to spend your Sunday evening. Additionally, if your Sunday afternoon is free, drop by the Juneteenth Unity Fest Block Party, going from 3 pm until late night, under the Kosciuszko Bridge in Greenpoint.
Cost:RSVP for free

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Izzy Baskette is a Staff Writer for Thrillist New York. Find her on Instagram.