Things to Do

How to Celebrate Juneteenth in the DC Area

There are festivals, pop-up shops, and performances all weekend.

Black Lives Matter Plaza on Juneteenth. Photo courtesy of Flickr user, Joe Flood.

Juneteenth is back this weekend in its second year as a federally recognized holiday, and there are several ways to celebrate Black history and culture in our area. From block parties to bike tours to music festivals, here are a few ideas for how to spend your weekend around town.

Buy Black

If you’re looking for ways to support the local Black community, there will be a number of pop-up markets where you can shop from Black-owned businesses.

Come out to the People’s Community Baptist Church (31 Norwood Road, Silver Spring) for the Juneteenth Black Business Expo. The family friendly market will feature more than 40 vendors, live performances, food, and music. (June 18, 12 PM-6 PM; free)

Try some vegan cheesesteaks and falafel at Zoe’s Vegan Delight in Eastern Market. The Black-owned vegan joint will be posted up for a few hours for a Juneteenth lunch. (June 19, 11 AM-2 PM)

Celebrate Black-owned businesses at the Brookland Arts Walk Market with performances, arts and crafts, and music. (June 19, 11 AM-5 PM; 716 Monroe St, Northeast; free)

Afro Soca Love, a clothing brand that organizes community events, will host a pop-up marketplace with a slew of Black-owned shops and food vendors. There will also be live DJs and entertainment so you can vibe out while you shop. If you can’t get enough, come out to their afterparty later that night and dance to soca, reggae, and hip-hop tunes.  (June 19, 11 AM-6 PM; Karma, 2221 Adams Pl, Northeast; $5)

Head to the Black Social Juneteenth Pop-Up at the Anacostia Arts Center (1231 Good Hope Road, Southeast) for a full afternoon of shopping and music from Jay Sun and other drummers. (June 19, 12 PM-5 PM; free)


Get Yo’ Groove On

If you decided to not drop tons of cash on a ticket for Pharrell’s Something in the Water Festival, you can still join in on the fun (for free!). There will be a pop-up church service event with gospel and dance ministry performances from musicians Jon Batiste, Tamar Braxton, and Tamela Mann. (June 19, 12 PM-6 PM; Independence Avenue, Southwest; free)

Join community-building organization Dia de los Muertos DC for an all-day block party with a drum circle, yoga, and music. (June 19, 9 AM-6 PM; Black Lives Matter Plaza; free)

Wolf Trap rings in the holiday with a performance by Thee Phantom and the Illharmonic Orchestra. The all-Black orchestra will mix hip-hop and classical sounds as they perform works by musical giants such as Beethoven, Jay-Z, Mozart, and Mary J. Blige. (June 19, 6 PM; Wolf Trap; Tickets start at $27)


Educate Yourself

Take a self-guided Black history bike tour of Alexandria and learn about historic sites around Jones Point Park and surrounding streets. The seven-mile route and historic site descriptions will be provided after you register. (June 19-June 20; Jones Point Park; free)

The Washington National Cathedral will mark the holiday with an evening of dialogue on the how monuments and memorials shape public memory. The night will end with food trucks, music, and an opportunity to observe the Cathedral’s Juneteenth public lighting exhibit. (June 21, 7 PM; free)


Celebrate and Rejoice

Join the nutrition-focused nonprofit WANDA at its Sisterhood Supper in Oxon Run Park (300 Valley Ave, SE) to honor local culinary leaders. Chef Aria and Public Good will be serving up African dishes such as Ghanian-style chicken, jollof rice, and plantains. There will also be a live DJ and performers. (June 18, 2 PM-6 PM; free)

Head out to the Chocolate City Jubilee at Freedom Plaza for free food and drinks, live go-go performances, and joyful vibes. (June 19, 12 PM-5 PM; 14th and Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest; free)

Juneteenth Music & Arts Fest:  Enjoy live music, an open mic, and a pop-up market featuring Black-owned businesses at PhreeSpace and Art.Is Empowerment’s Annual Juneteenth Festival. The festival’s Melanated Market vendors include collage artist Khadija Jahmila, marijuana vendor Pretty N Potent, food and pastry company Terry’s Taste, and more. (June 19; 2 PM-7 PM; Bridgespot Skate Park, 201 Virginia Avenue, Southeast; free, $5 for open mic performers)

Moechella is back with a  peaceful demonstration and celebration that features performances from Yaddiya and other musicians. (June 19, 4 PM-8 PM; 14th & U Street, Northwest; Free)

More community celebrations: There will be family friendly parties held throughout Maryland and Virginia all weekend. The Carlyle House (121 N Fairfax St, Alexandria) has partnered up with the Athanaeum for an afternoon of hands-on activities, poetry readings, and art on the lawn and in the gardens of the museum. You can also bring the kids out to the McLean Community Center (468 Dolley Madison Blvd, McLean) for a performance from Grammy-nominated group the Alphabet Rockers.

National Harbor is hosting a day of education and celebration filled with performances from the Prince George’s County Poet Laureate and Youth Poet Laureate, live music, and local dancers. There will also be a Juneteenth celebration in at BlackRock Center for the Arts (12901 Town Commons Drive, Germantown) with food trucks, educational passport activities, and dance performances. (June 18-19; all events are free)


Support Black Creatives

If you haven’t already, check out the Kennedy Center’s week-long celebration, Reframing the Narrative. The weekend will feature performances by the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ballethnic Dance Company, and Collage Dance Collective, along with other Black ballet dancers. (June 17-19; showtimes vary; the Kennedy Center; tickets start at $29)

Witness the beauty of Drumfolk, Step Afrika!’s newest dance production. The performance, based on the Stono Rebellion of 1739 in South Carolina that resulting in laws prohibiting enslaved Africans from assembling and using drums, is the first of three immersive productions the company is doing with Arena stage. (June 17-June 26; showtimes vary; tickets start at $41)

Wind down the day with a drink and a few up-and-coming comedians at the Juneteenth Father’s Day Comedy Slam: (June 19, 7 PM; 1343 L Street, NW; $30)

Damare Baker
Research Editor

Before becoming Research Editor, Damare Baker was an Editorial Fellow and Assistant Editor for Washingtonian. She has previously written for Voice of America and The Hill. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she studied international relations, Korean, and journalism.

Maggie Hicks
Editorial Fellow