This Sunday is June 19, or Juneteenth, the United States’ oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery.
A federal holiday as of last year, Juneteenth’s origins trace back to 1865 and Galveston, Texas. Also known as Jubilee Day and Emancipation Day, celebrations across the country highlight Black history, culture, music, art and more while acknowledging a part of America’s past that continues to impact the nation today.
Like other states, New Jersey is planning a number of Juneteenth celebrations this weekend. With Father’s Day also falling on Sunday, Juneteenth festivities are happening Saturday as well. A sampling of Garden State events can be found below.
Juneteenth Arts Festival, Union
June 18, 11 am-6 pm
This “celebration of freedom” at Rabkin Park is providing music, live performances, food, art vendors and more. Food options include Snatch Yo Soul Food and Mr. Cooper’s Funneland, and DJs, dancers and a TikTok star are bringing the entertainment.
Juneteenth at the Park, Piscataway
June 18, 12-6 pm
Head to Riverside Park and celebrate diversity at this family-friendly event, which welcomes all Middlesex County residents. Highlights include music, live presentations, games, dancing and crafts for kids. Admission is free, but be sure to register online.
Juneteenth Black Business Expo, Hamilton
June 18, 10 am-3 pm
Celebrate Juneteenth by supporting Black-owned businesses from the Mercer County area at the Conference Center inside the RWJ Hamilton Center for Health & Wellness. General admission is free and open to the public; guests can learn about Mercer County’s shops and food. Attendees are also being treated to a live DJ and giveaways.
June 18 & 19, 2-7 pm
This free, two-day event at the Riverfront Promenade features music, food, vendors, health screenings and more. A Kids Zone offers free lunches, as well as crafts, games and bounce houses. “Praise on the Promenade: A Gospel Music Celebration” closes out the festivities on Sunday.
Juneteenth NJ, East Rutherford
June 19, 12-9 pm
With a focus on New Jersey businesses, talent and culture, this celebration includes headlining performances from Showcase, Just Blaze and Flygerian. Located outside of the American Dream mall, tickets cost $30 for general admission, though seniors can enter for free. Attendees must be 21 and over.
Juneteenth & Father’s Day Celebration, Elizabeth
June 19, 1-5 pm
Observe both of Sunday’s holidays for free at Pop Up Next Door in Elizabeth. This family-friendly event is featuring over 20 small businesses, live performances—including poetry and spoken words—and raffles. Masks are required.
June 19, 4:30-5:30 pm
The United Methodist Church of Red Bank is hosting the Red Bank Chamber of Music Society’s Juneteenth Celebration concert, featuring a classical performance from the New York City-based Harlem Chamber Players. The free concert highlights music composed, performed and influenced by Black musicians from the 18th to 20th centuries.