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11 free ways to celebrate, honor the Juneteenth holiday

If you aren't looking to drop a couple hundred dollars on the 'Something in the Water' festival, here are 11 other events to consider.

WASHINGTON — This weekend marks only the second time Juneteenth has been federally recognized as a holiday. And while many Washingtonians are planning on attending the "Something in the water" music festival at the National Mall as part of their celebrations, others expressed concern over the accessibility of the three-day festival. 

Currently, the cheapest available ticket starts at $350 for the three-day concert, with no option for a single-day pass. The festival has formerly been held in Virginia Beach and 2019 ticket prices were about $150. WUSA9 reached out to event sponsor Events DC and festival organizers about the price difference but never received a reply. 

"Black people in D.C., especially D.C. natives, cannot afford $350 to go stand on a Mall that our ancestors that were enslaved built," said Nee Nee Taylor of Harriet's Wildest Dreams, a Black-led abolitionist group.

If you aren't looking to drop a couple hundred dollars this Juneteenth weekend, Sunday's "Pop-Up Church Service" is a free part of the festival weekend, open to all community members. Performers include Jon Batiste, Anthony Brown, the Howard Gospel Choir and more. 

"Guests are invited to come celebrate and uplift one another with gospel choirs, dance ministry, and local and national worship leaders sharing the gospel and prayer offerings," the SITW website says.

  • Where: West Potomac Park (near MLK Memorial)
  • When: June 19 from noon-6 p.m. 
  • Price: Free for all ages  
Credit: Something in the Water
"Pop-Up Church Service" is free for all community members on Sunday, June 19 from noon-6 p.m. at West Potomac Park.

For some historical context, Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved people were finally set free. It originated in Galveston, Texas on June 19,1865 when Union General Gordon Granger reached the western most state in the Confederacy to announce that the Civil War ended, more than two months after Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant on April 9 ending the Civil War and two years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. As Granger's words spread through Texas, the joyous celebration of enslaved people gave birth to Juneteenth -- a combination of the words June and nineteen. 

Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday in 1980. Since then, 49 states and the District, as well as many private companies, recognized June 19 as a paid holiday, before President Joe Biden proclaimed it a federal holiday on June 17, 2021.

From live music to parades, block parties and educational activities, here are 10 free options for celebrating -- and honoring -- Juneteenth.

LIVE MUSIC: Juneteenth Hang with &Friends

  • Host: Capitol Cider House
  • Where: Capital Cider House - 3930 Georgia Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.
  • When: June 18 from 8 - 10 p.m
  • Price: Free to attend

Juneteenth Parade in District Heights

  • Host: Stanford Fraser
  • Where: 6419 Marlboro Pike, District Heights, Maryland
  • When: June 18 from noon - 5 p.m
  • Price: Free to attend

Contextualizing Juneteenth in Maryland: Emancipation or Freedom?

  • Host: Maryland Center for History and Culture
  • Where: Virtual Event (Zoom Webinar)
  • When: June 16 from noon - 1 p.m.
  • Price: Free

Juneteenth: A Celebration

  • Host: National Archives Museum
  • Where: National Archives Museum - 701 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.
  • When: June 17 - June 20; museum is open until 7 p.m. on June 18-20
  • Price: Free

Children's Day at the Museum Sponsored by Colonial Downs Group: Juneteenth

  • Host: Historic Dumfries Virginia, Inc.
  • Where: 3944 Cameron St., Dumfries, Virginia
  • When: June 18 at 1 p.m.
  • Price: Free

2022 Juneteenth: Journey to Freedom

  • Host: Montgomery County Office of Human Rights
  • Where: BlackRock Center for Fine Arts - 12901 Town Commons Dr., Germantown, Maryland
  • When: June 18 from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Price: Free to attend

Stafford Juneteenth Freedom Day

  • Host: Stafford NAACP
  • Where: Colonial Forge High School - 550 Courthouse Rd. Stafford, Virginia
  • When: June 18 from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
  • Price: Free to attend

Juneteenth Celebration at Frying Pan Farm Park

  • Host: Fairfax County
  • Where: Frying Pan Farm Park - 2709 West Ox Rd., Herndon, Virginia
  • When: June 18 from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m
  • Price: Free to attend

Juneteenth Block Party Celebration

  • Host: Mema's Popups & Bread for the City
  • Where: 1700 Good Hope Rd. SE, Washington, D.C.
  • When: June 19 from noon- 5 p.m
  • Price: Free

Juneteenth Pop-Up Shop!

  • Host: Black Social
  • Where: Anacostia Arts Center - 1231 Good Hope Rd. SE, Washington, D.C.
  • When: June 19  from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m
  • Price: Free to attend


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