The celebration of Juneteenth is bittersweet. The holiday marks the day that Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were free: June 19, 1865—two and a half years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official on January 1, 1863. It's certainly a time of celebration—and one of contemplation, education, and remembrance. Here is what we hope is a mix of those things in our guide map of places and ways to observe Juneteenth in and around Austin.Read More
Where to celebrate Juneteenth in Austin
The parade, the party, and more
Juneteenth Music Festival/Austin ISD Performing Arts Center
This is the sixth year of AISD's Juneteenth Music Festival, which replaced the Alvin Patterson Battle of the Bands after the latter’s demise. The fest starts at 6pm Friday and will feature the Austin All-Star Band, Black and Gold Dancers, Reagan High School Soul Mates, Reagan High School Cheerleaders, and the A-Train Drumline, along with special Courtney Santana.
If you haven't already checked out the Skylark, Juneteenth is a good time to do so. Some call it a dive bar, but it's really just a comfortable, welcoming place that hosts great blues, soul, and roots acts in its cozy, dimly lit confines.
Pre-Juneteenth Health and Wellness Fair
This is the 21st year of the Pre-Juneteenth Health and Wellness Fair, which will take place at the Blackland Neighborhood Center Friday starting at 7:30 p.m. Sponsored by the United Way, it celebrates, educates, and informs the community with the event that includes vendors, music, children’s activities, and food.
Juneteenth 2K Freedom Run/Walk
This is where the official fun starts, with a 5K run/walk at 9:30 a.m. The starting line is at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard and Comal Street. The finish line is at Rosewood Avenue and Chesntut Street. You can register at the Central Texas Juneteenth site.
Juneteenth Park Festival
The Juneteenth Freedom Parade ends at Rosewood Park, whereupon a celebration from commences, with food, speakers, music, kids activities, and more. The party will also extend across Rosewood Avenue to Boggy Creek Greenbelt.
George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center
The Carver is both Austin's first library and an emblem of its segregated past, and it’s especially significant on Juneteenth. It is home to a permanent exhibit on the subject as well as to the moving Juneteenth Memorial Sculpture Monument and Freedom Plaza. There are also current exhibitions by contemporary artists. There will be celebration of Juneteenth co-presented by the library and the cultural center Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Juneteenth Historical Parade
The annual Juneteenth Historical Parade features drumlines, full bands, dancers, and other folks marching, with more on the sidewalks waving. Like the Freedom Run, the parade at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard and Comal Street and ends at Rosewood and Chestnut avenues. Unlike the run, the parade starts at 10 a.m. and runs to noon Saturday.
Been Living Color: Juneteenth Edition
“Been Living Color” describes its Saturday show at Fallout Theater as “an all POC showcase featuring stand-up, stories, and sketches from those who live life in the margins.” The event is hosted by Jasmine Ellis and begins at 10 p.m. (doors 9:30 p.m.).
Austin Revitalization Authority Juneteenth Artist Celebration
David Thomas, Sedria Stevenson, and Keidra Hamilton are the artists celebrated at this year’s annual ARA Juneteenth Art Exhibition. The opening reception Thursday will celebrate the artists and the exhibit and highlights the East Austin community. Spoken-word artist Evan Blache will perform at the event, which is free and open to the public.
Kenny Dorham's Backyard/Victory Grill
Live blues and soul music are nothing new at Kenny Dorham's Backyard, an outdoor venue (with food trucks!) next to the historic Victory Grill.