How to celebrate Juneteenth in the East Bay

There are Juneteenth activities to enjoy every day this weekend in Oakland, Berkeley and beyond, all with agendas of food, drinks and fun.

Berkeley’s Juneteenth festival in 2016 Credit: Nancy Rubin

Juneteenth, the June 19 holiday honoring the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States, has a rich history in the East Bay. Though it wasn’t considered a federal holiday until 2021, and California didn’t make the day official until 2003, the city of Berkeley’s celebration has been going strong since 1986, making it the longest-running Juneteenth event in Northern California.

In the years since, these festivals have expanded and grown, with food vendors, entertainment and activities for kids. In addition, many restaurants offer special menus and events, as shared meals and dining has long been a central part of the celebration. Below you’ll find a selection of ways to celebrate Juneteenth in the East Bay. If you know of others, please do drop us a line and we’ll add them in.

Berkeley’s Juneteenth festival in 2016 Credit: Nancy Rubin

Berkeley

35th Annual Berkeley Juneteenth Festival
June 19 from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Adeline Street and Alcatraz Avenue
Free

Though it’s taken a few breaks over the years, Berkeley’s celebration remains the region’s longest-standing. This year, the theme is “Belonging,” and the food lineup specializes in vendors “representative of our diverse community.” There’s also live music across multiple stages and kids’ activities.

Oakland

Related
East Bay restaurant owners strive to spread the message of Juneteenth

Freedomful Fest: Juneteenth Weekend Celebration
June 17 at 9 p.m.
Crybaby (1928 Telegraph Ave.)
Tickets $15-30

This new Oakland bar in the former Uptown space celebrates the holiday Friday night with live DJ sets from Nana Kwabena, Lady Ryan, Kenzo and Slowlikewhoa.

Juneteenth Food and Music Festival
June 17 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Liberation Park (7101 Foothill Blvd.)
Tickets free-$45

Expect “seafood, soulfood, retail and cannabis” at this Friday event, which also includes an all-day skate party. Over 60 local food and gift vendors are promised.

Third annual Juneteenth In The Town Jubilee
June 18 5:30-9:30 p.m.
Tickets: $125-25,000

Event organizers have yet to name names, but said that attendees will enjoy food from “elite culinary chefs, your favorite local chefs and more.” Live music, art and culture is also on deck Saturday evening.

Afrocentric Oakland’s Juneteenth Weekend
June 18-19 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Lake Merritt Amphitheater
Tickets $5-850

The festival map shows a dedicated zone for food vendors and an expansive dining area, there’s also a focus on wellness with meditation, yoga and mental health offerings available. A full bar is on site, but outside food, coolers and drinks are all allowed, with the caveat that only one bottle of outside alcohol per person is allowed.

Red Bay Coffee grand opening
June 19 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
3206 Grand Ave.
Free

Local coffee roasters Red Bay are serving up free drip coffee in front of its newest location by the lake; its full menu is also available inside.

Beyond

Yes To Juneteenth
June 19 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Abrams Claghorn Gallery (1251 Solano Ave., Albany)
Free

A panoply of food vendors is expected at this Albany event, which also has a lineup of live music and a craft fair with 20 local artists.

City of Richmond Juneteenth Parade and Festival
June 18 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Nichol Park (3230 Macdonald Ave, Richmond)

This is Richmond’s first in-person Juneteenth festival since 2019, so expect big things. The parade kicks off at 10 a.m. at the Booker T. Anderson Center and winds up at Nichol Park, where you can enjoy a variety of food vendors, live music and local artists and craftspeople.

Eve Batey (she/her) is the editor of East Bay Nosh. Email: eve@eastbaynosh.org. Twitter: eveb.