Head toward Downtown Galveston, where Juneteenth began back in 1865, for full plate of attractions, events, performances, tributes, celebrations and more in June 2023 and beyond.
Galveston offers numerous historic sites and tours that showcase the origins of Juneteenth in the city, along with an annual Juneteenth festival, new special events, and activities.
It’s genuinely the ideal place to honor June 19, 1865, a momentous day when slavery was abolished in Texas and one of the last groups of enslaved people in the United States were freed.
While the biggest events happen the weekend of Juneteenth itself—Monday, June 19, 2023—the month of June is filled with special Juneteenth events and activities, not to mention many permanent tributes and installations on the island.
Juneteenth Attractions, Tours & Other Destinations in Galveston
- The Black Slate Monument at Rosenberg Library | On Display Through Wednesday July 5, 2023 | FREE – An interactive sculpture created by artist Kwame Akoto-Bamfo, the monument is a tribute to African American history and challenges the traditional concept of Confederate monuments.
- The Absolute Equality Mural in Downtown Galveston | Daily | FREE – Since its debut in 2021, the 5,000-square-foot mural created by Houston-based Reginald C. Adams has commemorated the historic day in 1865 that Union Army Major Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 in Galveston. Ordering the freedom of more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in the state of Texas, the original Juneteenth freed one of the last groups of enslaved people in the United States.
- Freedom Walk Tours | Daily | FREE – The self-guided tour takes participants to five historic sites that played a crucial role in Juneteenth including Pier 21 and the Middle Passage, The Absolute Equality Mural and NIA Cultural Center, US Custom House, Reedy Chapel, and the 1859 Ashton Villa.
- “And Still We Rise…” Exhibit at 1859 Ashton Villa | Daily throughout June 2023 – Introducing the context and consequences of General Order No. 3 from 1865 to the present, this interactive exhibit draws from recorded interviews and features numerous digital touchpoints allowing visitors to interact with collected photos, stories and research. $10; $5 ages 6 to 18; free for ages 5 and under. Hours vary.
- Juneteenth & Beyond Guided Tours | Daily – The island’s first African American guided history tour, Juneteenth & Beyond offers visitors the chance to explore and celebrate Galveston’s rich, Black history led by knowledgeable and informative guides. Hours vary.
- Galveston African American History Tour & App | Daily | FREE – Offered on the Visit Galveston app, the self-guided tour takes visitors on a journey to learn about the island’s historically Black institutions and monuments celebrating Black accomplishments.
Highlighted Juneteenth Celebrations, Performances & Events in Galveston
- As the birthplace of Juneteenth, Galveston Island has fast become the destination with the greatest number of events celebrating, commemorating, and connecting with the historic holiday.
We’ve pulled together a list of some of the most significant, notable, and unique events happening this month, but there’s even more Juneteenth events happening on Galveston Island this weekend and throughout all of June and beyond.
Thursday, June 15, 2023
- Sounds of Freedom: Pioneers & Notables of Galveston’s Black Music History at Galveston Island Convention Center – The NIA Cultural Center host a symposium packed with panel discussions, live music, and cultural performances—all celebrating the pioneers and notables of Galveston’s Black music history. Pay-what-you-can; donations encouraged. 1pm to 5pm.
- 9th Annual Juneteenth Gala at 1859 Ashton Villa – The annual gala welcomes Mr. Shawn Bailey, president and CEO of Amoco Credit Union, to the historic residence for a talk and dinner event. $40 and up. 6:30pm to 9pm.
Friday, June 16, 2023
- 2nd Annual Juneteenth Emancipation Gospel Celebration at the Grand 1894 Opera House – Galveston’s legendary opera house hosts a concert featuring Grammy-winning gospel artist Reverend Smokie Norful, Zacardi Cortez and Sunday’s Best gospel diva Amber Bulluck. $20 and up. 7pm.
Saturday, June 17, 2023
- Juneteenth Parade & Picnic in Galveston | FREE – Traveling 15 blocks down Avenue H, the annual Legacy of Juneteenth Parade will again work through Downtown Galveston, before ending at Wright Cuney Park for a 2pm community picnic. 1pm to 5pm.
- Juneteenth Festival 2023 at McGuire Dent Recreational Center | FREE – Along Seawall Boulevard, this family-friendly fest will be packed with a local vendor market, food and performances, just steps from the shores of the Gulf. 1pm to 8pm.
- Juneteenth Civic Season Event: A Slice of History at Rosenberg Library | FREE – Designed for students ages 13 to 17, this program co-sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute highlights Juneteenth’s historical impact and lessons to take away for civic life. 3pm to 6pm.
- Juneteenth Comedy Fest at Galveston Island Convention Center – Ahead of Juneteenth, the Galveston convention center hosts an all-star lineup of touring Texas comedians, including Billy D. Washington, Rodney Bigham, Dave Lawson and more. $20 and up. 7pm.
- Juneteenth Weekend Celebration: Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.—Original 5th Dimensions in Up, Up & Away! – The the seven-time Grammy-winning duo, known as “The First Couple of Pop and Soul”, perform classic hits from their days at the 5th Dimension in a celebration of 20th and 21st century African American music. $48 to $120. 8pm.
Sunday, June 18, 2023
- The Galveston Symphony Celebrates Juneteenth at the Grand 1894 Opera House | FREE – More than 50 musicians and performers come together between the Symphony and Galveston Heritage Chorale for an epic celebratory concert featuring historical African American music at the holiday’s birthplace. 4pm.
- Juneteenth Sneaker Ball at Moody Gardens – Cap off your black tie and gala attire with fashionable sneakers for at the first time signature celebration and party. $85 and up. 8pm to 1am.
Juneteenth, Monday, June 19, 2023
- 44th Annual Al Edwards Juneteenth Celebration at 1859 Ashton Villa | FREE – Take in a live reading of General Order No. 3, which declared freedom for enslaved people, at the island’s official Juneteenth historic monument at the 1859 Ashton Villa. 10am to 11am.
- Juneteenth Family Fun Day at Reedy Chapel AME | FREE – The historic Reedy Chapel AME church hosts a free community block party with food, games, prizes and more for families and those celebrating Juneteenth. Then, cap off the 158th Juneteenth by taking part in a historic reenactment of the emancipation march from the Chapel to the Galveston Courthouse to hear General Order No. 3, declaring “all slaves are free!” Block party from 1pm to 6pm; march event from 6pm to 8pm.
About Galveston Island
Galveston Island is a historic beach town located on the Gulf of Mexico just 50 miles from Houston, best known as a vacation destination, offering 32 miles of beaches, a variety of family attractions, Texas’ premier cruise port and one of the largest and well-preserved concentrations of Victorian architecture in the country, including several National Historic Landmarks.
The birthplace of Juneteenth, Galveston is also home to popular amusements such as Moody Gardens and Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark, as well as a variety of museums and recreational activities from surfing to birding.
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