15 Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth in the Bay Area

From jazz concerts to free museum visits and more, here’s how to celebrate Freedom Day across nine Bay Area counties.

Referred to as Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, and Liberation Day, but most commonly known as Juneteenth, it holds distinction as the oldest holiday that celebrates the liberation of enslaved people in the US. Two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Emancipation Proclamation, 250,000 Black people were still enslaved in Texas, brought there by slaveholders who sought to evade the executive order. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and 2,000 Union soldiers arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, to enforce the edict and grant a quarter-million captives their freedom.

For many years, the holiday was celebrated primarily within Black communities, though festivities spanned across the country and even as far as Mexico. Following the civil unrest of 2020, many came forward demanding accountability for the Black lives that were taken through police brutality, the prison industrial complex, and racial disparities impacting the Black community. When the Senate voted Juneteenth as a federally recognized holiday in 2021, it marked a milestone in American history by openly acknowledging the enslavement of Black ancestors as well as the forced labor that built this country and cost millions of Black lives.

Here in the Bay Area, there’s a strong legacy of celebrating Juneteenth in places like Oakland and Berkeley, while other communities are celebrating for the first time this year. From San Francisco to Marin County, Santa Clara, and even Napa, here are 15 ways to celebrate Juneteenth in the Bay Area, spanning music and food festivals, family-friendly activities, and more:

ILLUMINATE
ILLUMINATE

Friday, June 17–Saturday, June 18
Golden Gate Park Bandshell, San Francisco
In Golden Gate Park, Illuminate and The Fillmore Jazz Ambassadors will host two days of jazz music. Go on opening day on Friday, June 17, when five-time Grammy winner Victor Wooten and the Wooten Brothers will play from 5–7 pm, or on Saturday, June 18, to enjoy musical acts like the John Coltrane Church Ensemble, Lady Bianca, The Charles Unger Experience, Robin Duhe, and Fillmore Slim, performing from 12 noon to 4 pm. You can also visit artist Dana King’s Monumental Reckoning, a collection of 350 ancestral sculptures that encircle the vacant plinth of the slaveholder Frances Scott Key that was partially toppled by protesters on Juneteenth 2020. The installation will remain in place until June 20, 2023.

Sunday, June 19
Main Street Park, Napa Valley
The inaugural Juneteenth celebration for American Canyon is presented in partnership with the American Canyon Arts Foundation, including a free event with keynote speeches from Paul Cobb of Post News Group and Dr. Sarah Rush, the great granddaughter of Booker T. Washington, to name a few. Food trucks and vendors will be on hand, as well as live performances from Bow Hammer Skins and the West Coast Caravan of All Stars, plus a gospel hour from 1–2 pm featuring the Allen Temple B.C. Male Chorus. A kid zone will be available from 12–4 pm, in addition to Father’s Day raffles. Limited reserved seating is available for $30 per person by emailing info@amcanart.org or calling 707-645-8840.

Hip Hop for Change
Hip Hop for Change

Saturday, June 18
Mill Valley Downtown Plaza, Mill Valley
Just 15 miles north of San Francisco, the City of Mill Valley will host its inaugural Juneteenth event on Saturday from 11 am–3 pm. In coordination with the Mill Valley Force for Racial Equity & Empowerment (MVFREE), the celebration will include poetry, storytelling, live music, and DJs from around the Bay Area. Hip Hop for Change will be there to celebrate diversity and amplify Black voices, while DJ Saurus, Jazz Mafia,Deuce Eclipse, DayLite and Unlearn the World play some of your favorites songs.
 

Berkeley California Juneteenth Festival
Berkeley California Juneteenth Festival

Sunday, June 19
Adeline St and Alcatraz Ave, Berkeley
Held annually since 1986, Berkeley’s festival is the longest running Juneteenth event in Northern California. Held in South Berkeley’s Alcatraz-Adeline Corridor, the free and public festival will include an art exhibit, community resources, drumming, arts and crafts, food vendors, marching bands, and two entertainment stages from 11 am–7 pm. Kiddos can climb a rock wall, skate, and participate in STEM activities in the Kid/STEM Zone. On the RD Bonds Main Stage, visitors can listen to jazz, blues, neo-soul, gospel, R&B, and reggae from acts like Sonny Fairley, Ronnie Mills, Theo-Sambafunk, and more. The Lothario Lotho Stage will feature performances geared towards young adults, including youth gospel choirs, jazz workshops, and spoken word.

Saturday, June 18
Suisun Waterfront, Suisun City
This will be the first year that Suisun City is hosting Juneteenth celebrations. The theme of the free event is promoting family values and Black culture. Hosted by Suisun City Juneteenth Committee in partnership with The Suisun City Youth Commission, R.E.A.L Fairfield, and Tri-City NAACP, the family-friendly festival will be held from 11 am to 5 pm, including storytime with Solano County Library, chess matches for all skill levels, a paint party, yoga, bounce houses, and more, plus live entertainment featuring speakers, musicians, and poets.

OAK FAM BAM
OAK FAM BAM

Saturday, June 18–Sunday, June 19
Lake Merritt Amphitheater, Oakland
Head to Oakland to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Pan African Wellness Fest and Fam Bam Juneteenth Celebration with two full days of festivities. On Saturday, June 18, you can enjoy holistic wellness spanning meditation, mental health, Tai Chi, yoga, self-defense, spoken word, a silent disco, interactive art installations, a youth zone, keynote speakers, food vendors, and more. On Sunday, you can turn up with the Fam Bam X celebration that promotes family, community, culture, and love with DJs, inspirational art, a youth zone, a Black Father’s Day tribute, and more. A limited number of cabanas will be available to reserve on day two of the festival. Tickets are available for purchase online.

Friday, June 17
46 B Main Street, Tiburon
Hosted by the Tiburon Peninsula Chamber of Commerce from 4–7 pm, the city of Tiburon’s second annual Juneteenth celebration will include live jazz and poetry readings, in addition to appearances by Black cowboys.

Sunday, June 19
Rocky Graham Park, Marin County
Marin City’s sixth annual Juneteenth celebration has a theme of "Looking Towards the Future," with festivities from 10:30 am to 6 pm, including an opening ceremony of traditional drumming, followed by gospel, r&b, and jazz performances, youth dance performances, and an African Marketplace featuring local businesses like Caribbean Spice Food Truck and Clotile’s Fried Fish and Oysters, plus Ethiopian coffee, barbecue, tacos, and more. There will also be retail vendors, skin and haircare, art, and more. While the event is free, there’s a VIP option for $150, which includes a padded seat in the Rocky Graham Amphitheater, an entree, beverage and dessert of choice, wait service, and valet parking. Sign up to be a volunteer to help the festivities run a little smoother for everyone to enjoy.

Grand Nationxl
Grand Nationxl

Saturday, June 18
New Parish, Oakland
This Juneteenth celebration is unlike anything else you will experience over the holiday weekend. The all-ages music festival is hosted by the artist collective Grand Nationxl, featuring local talent and Black indie artists who are typically passed over by big festivals. The fun begins at 6 pm, with a Black market, gaming tournaments of dominoes, spades, and dice hosted by UPLFTRS, food hosted by Regulars Only, plus performances by Dame Drummer, Zharmilla, Roux Shankle, Karega Bailey, and more. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online.

Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD)
Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD)

Saturday, June 18
Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco
In celebration of Juneteenth, San Francisco’s Museum of African Diaspora will offer free entry to all visitors on Saturday from 11 am–6 pm. The museum will be closed on Sunday, June 19, so that museum staff can celebrate the holiday and enjoy a day of rest. In addition to complimentary access to current exhibits like Elegies: Still Lifes in Contemporary Art; David Huffman, Terra Incognita; and Sam Vernon: Impasse of Desires, the museum is also offering virtual activities including an informal discussion called “Art As We See It” on representation and equality, paired with music from 11 am–noon. For those who decide to visit in-person, St. Gabriel’s Celestial Brass Band will lead a second line processional and perform in MoAD’s salon from 12–2 pm. For virtual and in-person visitors, Professor Daina Ramey Berry will host a historic presentation called Juneteenth: A Day of Jubilee from 3–4 pm in the MoAD Salon. Register for the virtual event online.

Saturday, June 18
Parade begins at Booker T. Anderson Community Center and ends at Nicholl Park, Richmond
Get ready for the Richmond Juneteenth parade to take to the streets at 10am at Booker T. Anderson Community Center. Hosted by The Neighborhood Block Association (NBA), an organization created to save Richmond’s Juneteenth celebrations after city officials canceled all festivals due to financial hardships in 2004. In previous years, the City of Richmond has drawn large crowds with headlining performances from 90s groups like Cameo and soul singer Dawn Robinson of R&B groups Lucy Pearl and En Vogue. This year there’s no telling who may wow the crowd, but expect live music, food, and more. The festival begins at Nicholl Park at 11:30 am and ends at 6 pm.

Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House

Thursday, June 16–Sunday, June 19
Bayview Opera House and Gilman Park, San Francisco
The neighborhood Bayview-Hunters Point is home to the largest Black community in San Francisco, as well as the historic Bayview Opera House (BVOH), which was built in 1888 and is the city’s oldest theater. The theater has been celebrating Juneteenth all month long, including an artist expo and a screening of the documentary Ferguson Rises. Juneteenth weekend events include a screening of The Joy Protocol, an artistic collaboration between composer Richard Howell and choreographer Gregory Dawson that will be performed at 8 pm from Thursday, June 16, through Saturday, June 18. On Sunday, head to SF’s Gilman Park to join Black Wall Street’s Juneteenth Celebration from 11 am to 5 pm, or catch the 20th anniversary screening of Straight Outta Hunters Point on Ruth Williams Indoor Stage at BVOH.

Sunday, June 19
Brentwood City Park, Brentwood
Celebrate Antioch Foundation brings a day of speakers and vendors to the City of Brentwood. Hosted by gospel radio personality Steven Parker, celebrants can enjoy a salute to Black fathers, plus performances from Harley Griffin’s Luther Vandross Tribute band, Frankie Beverly tribute artist Lionel J, and Barry White tribute musician Kenny “King” Smith, as well as gospel recording artist N’Season. Bring the family for fun, food, and music from 12–5 pm.

Vallejo Juneteenth
Vallejo Juneteenth

Saturday, June 18
Martin Luther King Jr Park / Marina Vista Memorial Park, Vallejo
This year will mark the 32nd annual Juneteenth celebrations for Bay Area rapper E-40’s hometown of Vallejo. Expect performances from R&B artists Project 4 Band and blues guitarist Alvon Johnson, as well as 75-100 exhibitors selling merchandise and food. Join the community for health and wellness assessments; education, employment and training opportunities; financial planning; and activities for kids. Celebrations run from 11 am to 4 pm.

Saturday, June 18
Fillmore District, San Francisco
Spearheaded by the Juneteenth SF Freedom Organization, there’s a little something for everyone at this free Juneteenth celebration that includes games and rides; a classic car show; a hair and fashion show; live performances from Jaquees, Pleasure P, and more; and a Tastemakers District with food trucks and pop-ups from the Bay’s top chefs, including a beer and wine garden for the 21+ set. Attendees who register will be entered into raffles for sponsored gift certificates and other prizes. The festival is held in Fillmore from 11 am to 6 pm, celebrating the neighborhood’s history as the “Harlem of the West” and a once-epicenter for Black culture, music, and entertainment.

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Brandy Collins is a contributor for Thrillist.