Officially observed on June 19, commemorating the historic day, June 19, 1865, when Galveston, Texas received the news that all people of African descent who were once enslaved were free. The resulting celebration began as a local event in Galveston, and later became an annual tradition. The recognition expanded and Juneteenth is now a federal holiday.

To highlight this significant event in America's history, there are activities throughout June in Chesapeake that celebrate with family, food, music, and more!

The History

In Chesapeake (formerly known as Norfolk County), freedom stories began long before America's Civil War. At  Battlefield Park you are near the site of the Revolutionary War's 1775 Battle of Great Bridge. William "Billy" Flora bravely fought for the country's liberty. At this time in history, Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment fought alongside the British for freedom from enslavement.You can learn more about this history, including a video reenactment of this battle at the Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterway Museum.

Cuffeytown (also known as Longridge), is a historic community that can be traced to the 1700s. It was formed by black people who were free.

Drive through the places. Listen to the Stories.

The Chesapeake African American Heritage Trail includes a self-guided driving tour with multiple sites of interest. Also, engage your senses as you listen to our companion podcast. Episodes feature powerful commentary from local historians, artists, and citizens.

The Dismal Swamp Canal is on the National Register of Historic Places, Virginia Landmarks Register, and Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program. The canal was originally dug by hand by people who were enslaved. It was later used by those seeking freedom abroad the hundreds of watercraft passing through the canal. Today, you can see the historic waterway from the 8.5-mile paved trail called the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail. You can walk or bike the trail while reflecting on the history found at this site. Historic markers can be found along the trail's path.

Events and Activities

Join the events and activities in Chesapeake that Celebrate Juneteenth.

Juneteenth Luncheon
Greenbrier Country Club
June 15, 2024 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Cost: $50 per person, includes a buffet lunch

The keynote speaker is Brenda H. Andrews, publisher of the New Journal and Guide newspaper.

Juneteenth Weekend Celebration
Painting with a Twist
June 15, 2024 from 7:00 pm to 9:00pm
Cost: $43 to $50 per person including two glasses of wine

If you are wanting to host your own Juneteenth Celebration consider one of Chesapeake's many parks. Shelters and grills are available to rent (reservations required) and you can make it a wonderful day with family and friends.

Juneteenth Community Cookout 
Elizabeth River Park
June 16, 2024 from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Cost: Free 

Celebrate Juneteenth at this community cookout with food, music, and fun for all!