SALT LAKE CITY — Juneteenth is a holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. Though the holiday has been celebrated for over 150 years, the recent protests over racial injustice have caused Juneteenth to be more in the spotlight this year than usual.

Juneteenth commemorates when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to announce that the Civil War was over and that the slaves of Texas — the last in the country — were free.

“Juneteenth is a unifying holiday,” Steve Williams, president of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, told USA Today. “It is the completion of the celebration of freedom in America.”

Although the holiday is usually celebrated with cookouts and festivals, this year Juneteenth will also be marked by protests across the country, with demonstrations planned in New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and other cities, according to The Hill.

“We are currently living in one of the hugest civil rights movements in American history,” Hawk Newsome, founder of Black Lives Matter Greater New York, told The Wall Street Journal. “We were given freedom on paper a few centuries ago, but now we seek freedom for real.” 

Many companies — including Twitter, Nike, Target, Ben & Jerry’s, and others — have made Juneteenth a paid holiday this year, according to CNN.

TV networks will also be celebrating Juneteenth with special programming this weekend, including HBO, Apple, BET, National Geographic, and more, according to Deadline.

In Utah, there will be several events taking place this weekend (and some hosted online) to celebrate the holiday. Here are some of the concerts, festivals and other events taking place.


Friday, June 19

Flag Raising Ceremony

  • What: Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson will attend to raise the flag and present a proclamation; Rep. Sandra Hollins will speak.
  • Where: Salt Lake County Government Center, 2001 S. State, Salt Lake City
  • When: 11:30 a.m.

Juneteenth Day! The State of Black Utah Town Hall

  • What: This year’s Mr. and Miss Juneteenth will be presented, followed by a conversation about “Mind, Body & Spirit: Black Mental Health in the Midst of Crisis” and how youth, young adults and emerging leaders are coping with racism and injustices.
  • Where: Online event via Zoom. Tickets can be requested at facebook.com/events.
  • When: 6 p.m.

Livestream Juneteenth Concert: Joshy Soul & The Cool

  • What: Excellence in the Community and the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City are hosting two livestreamed concerts to celebrate Juneteenth. Friday night’s concert will feature a performance from Joshy Soul & The Cool.
  • Where: Online event that can be watched at excellenceconcerts.org or facebook.com/excellenceinthecommunity/live.
  • When: 8 p.m.

Saturday, June 20

Juneteenth Commemorative Caravan

  • What: The caravan will drive through downtown Ogden. Cars, trucks, motorcycles and walkers are invited to participate.
  • Where: Line up for the caravan will be at Marshall White Community Center, 222 28th Street, Ogden.
  • When: Line up begins at 10 a.m.; the caravan begins at 11 a.m.

Juneteenth Festival & Holiday

  • What: A virtual festival featuring live broadcasts of performers. Performances will include hip hop, R&B, spoken word, dance, drumming, jazz and gospel.
  • Where: Online event at facebook.com/Juneteenthutah and Zoom.
  • When: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Livestream Juneteenth Concert: CJ Drisdom & The Feel Goodz

  • What: Excellence in the Community and the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City are hosting two livestreamed concerts to celebrate Juneteenth. Saturday night’s concert will feature a performance from CJ Drisdom & The Feel Goodz.
  • Where: Online event that can be watched at excellenceconcerts.org or facebook.com/excellenceinthecommunity/live.
  • When: 8 p.m.

Sunday, June 21

Juneteenth Gospel Sunday & Father’s Day Tribute

  • What: A virtual event that will feature Minister John Bratton and performances from local choirs.
  • Where: Online event at facebook.com/Juneteenthutah or Zoom.
  • When: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Correction: This article previously stated that Juneteenth has been celebrated for over two hundred years. Juneteenth has been celebrated for 155 years, since the end of the Civil War in 1865.