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More than a dozen women dressed in bright outfits and wearing beautiful headdresses are shown sitting on a colorful float during a Juneteenth parade. Independence Hall is in the background.

Juneteenth Celebrations in Philadelphia

Play Video Photo by A. Ricketts for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
Date May 22, 2024

Juneteenth Celebrations in Philadelphia

More than a dozen women dressed in bright outfits and wearing beautiful headdresses are shown sitting on a colorful float during a Juneteenth parade. Independence Hall is in the background.

Juneteenth is a day that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States and Philadelphia is home to one of the largest celebrations in the country.

The holiday — celebrated annually on June 19th — is an opportunity for Philadelphia to celebrate its rich heritage and diverse communities. Every June, the city is filled with experiences that amplify Philadelphia’s storied Black history. This includes festive block parties, live music performances, and insightful museum programming.

History of Juneteenth

On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and an army of federal troops marched into Galveston, Texas to take control of the state and emancipate enslaved people. Although the Emancipation Proclamation — President Lincoln’s executive order abolishing slavery — was nearly three years old, many enslavers continued to hold enslaved people captive. After that moment, June 19th became a symbolic date representing Black freedom, now known as Juneteenth.

The celebration of the first Juneteenth — a blend of “June” and “nineteenth” — was held in Texas the following year and soon gained momentum in other states. Juneteenth was officially made a federal holiday in 2021, after President Biden signed a bill recognizing the holiday.

Today in Philadelphia, Juneteenth celebrations take place across the city. Some held in the same sites where our Founding Fathers first declared our freedom centuries ago.

A bright, red, white, and blue float with flowers and other patriotic decor is shown. A woman dressed in all white, waving an African flag in her left hand sits next to an America flag made out of tinsel. Independence Hall is in the background.

The Philadelphia Juneteenth Musicfest & Parade – hosted by the Philadelphia Community of Leaders – is a two day festival that honors enslaved ancestors and celebrates African-American freedom. Photo by A. Ricketts for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

Neighborhood Celebrations

Philadelphia commemorates the Juneteenth holiday each year with a series of festivals, parades, and community events. One of the largest Juneteenth celebrations in the nation is the annual Philadelphia Juneteenth Parade & Festival. Since its inception in 2016, the event has drawn over 25,000 people each year. The annual celebration starts with a mile-and-a-half-long parade featuring over 2,000 participants and 20 floats. After the parade, the party keeps going at Malcolm X Park in West Philadelphia, with live performances, food trucks, and community vendors.

Juneteenth also marks the start of Philadelphia’s annual Wawa Welcome American festival. The sixteen-day free-festival runs from Juneteenth through July 4 and celebrates those holidays with free museum days, fireworks, and food fairs. For Juneteenth, Wawa Welcome America hosts free admission days at the African American Museum and an annual block party celebrating liberation.

Young women dressed in brightly colored outfits are shown on a stage, performing with a band behind them. The show is a part of Juneteenth celebrations in Philadelphia.

Wawa Welcome America celebrates Juneteenth at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Welcome America Photo by J. Kaczmarek.

Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood is home to another large Juneteenth celebration, held annually outside the Johnson House Historic Site. The house was once home to the Johnson family of Quaker abolitionists. It is one of the few intact Philadelphia historic sites that served as stations along the Underground Railroad. The Johnson House’s annual Juneteenth festival features historic re-enactments, a panel discussion, food trucks, African drumming, and more.

Juneteenth Exhibitions

Each June, local museums open their doors for special Juneteenth programming. The Museum of the American Revolution hosts a series of activities, including guided tours, a farmers market, and a series of lectures.

The National Constitution Center commemorates the holiday by offering free admission on Juneteenth. They also offer tours of the Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality exhibit. The Betsy Ross House celebrates by treating visitors to a special concert featuring a performance by the Philadelphia Heritage Chorale.

A woman in a maroon and red dress stands at a podium slightly off to the left. Beside her on the wall is the 14th Amendment written out in white writing against a gray backdrop.

FOURTEEN is a theatrical production that is presented in conjunction with the National Constitution Center’s Civil War and Reconstruction exhibit and examines the Reconstruction era and the ratification of the 14th Amendment. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

Planning to visit Philadelphia around Juneteenth? Visit our Plan Your Trip page to complete your Philadelphia itinerary.