Austin

The Ultimate Guide to Juneteenth in Texas

Celebrate the newest national holiday all around the Lonestar State.

Juneteenth San Antonio Texas
Juneteenth San Antonio Texas
Juneteenth San Antonio Texas

The newest federal holiday is right around the corner. Officially recognized by the United States government as of June 17, 2021, Juneteenth has its roots firmly planted in Texas. The day commemorates when the news of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation finally reached enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas in 1865. People celebrate Emancipation Day in a variety of different ways. You might head out to a rodeo or family reunion. And you’re more than likely to sing the Black national anthem Lift Every Voice and Sing at some point during the day. But above all, those who celebrate are guaranteed to find community and some damn good food (red velvet cake included). Here’s a list of various events taking place across the state of Texas where you can enjoy the festivities of Juneteenth.

Emancipation Park Conservancy
Emancipation Park Conservancy
Emancipation Park Conservancy

Emancipation Park 150 Juneteenth Celebration

Saturday, June 18 – Sunday June, 19
Houston
A historic park in Houston’s Third Ward is reaching a massive milestone with this year’s Juneteenth celebration. Back in 1872, four newly freed men founded Emancipation Park to commemorate their community and, of course, their emancipation. This year is the park’s 150th-year-anniversary. There are a series of thoughtful talks headed up by community leaders and artists throughout the month leading up to the two-day celebration on the 18th and 19th. It is guaranteed to be an unforgettable event with performances from the likes of funk icons, the Isley Brothers and Kool and the Gang.

2022 Opal’s Walk for Freedom.

Saturday, June 18
Fort Worth
No modern article about Juneteenth is complete without the mention of Ms. Opal Lee. In 2016, at the age of 89, Ms. Opal Lee declared her plan to walk 1400 miles from Fort Worth, Texas, to Washington DC to gain support for Congress to declare Juneteenth a national holiday. She walked 2.5 miles each day to symbolize the 2.5 years it took for news of the Emancipation Proclamation to reach Black people in Texas. Her efforts are directly responsible for President Joe Biden officially making Juneteenth a national holiday on June 17, 2021. This year, you can join Ms. Opal Lee on another 2.5-mile walk as she continues to further spread education and awareness of the Black freedom struggle. You can register to walk with her virtually or join her in-person in Fort Worth.

Juneteenth San Antonio Texas
Juneteenth San Antonio Texas
Juneteenth San Antonio Texas

San Antonio, Texas Presents the 2022 Juneteenth Festival

Friday, June 17 – Monday, June 20
San Antonio
The Juneteenth festival in San Antonio brings a weekend full of celebratory options with a Friday fish fry and a Saturday barbecue dinner. Watch musicians like Young James Brown, P. Funk Outlawz, and Ruben-V. Sunday offers festival-goers a chance to see gospel performances featuring beloved locals Mama Dee and Gary Givens. To cap off the four days of festivities, the event organizers will host a golf tournament the following Monday.

Central Texas Juneteenth Celebration

Saturday, June 18
Austin
Austinites can celebrate Juneteenth with a morning parade leading straight into an all-day park festival. Marching bands, steppers, and a whole lot of community-the Juneteenth Parade remains a strong tradition in historically Black East Austin that faces rapid gentrification. Participants will travel from MLK Blvd. down to Chestnut Ave./Pleasant Valley. The festival brings great food, vendors, live music, and a stunning fireworks show.

Real Cowboy Association
Real Cowboy Association
Real Cowboy Association

29th Annual Longview Juneteenth Black Rodeo

Saturday, June 25
Longview
A Texas-sized tradition takes place every year over at the Longview fairgrounds. The Annual Longview Juneteenth Black Rodeo, known as “The baddest show on dirt,” features entertainers, cowboys, and cowgirls competing for cash prizes in activities like barrel racing, team roping, horse racing, and more. The event is thrown by the Real Cowboy Association, whose mission revolves around highlighting the heritage of African American cowboys and cowgirls. This year also sees performances by “The King of Southern Soul Blues,” Sir Charles Jones, and rapper Lil’O of the Game Face Entertainment label.

Juneteenth Festival Round Rock

Saturday, June 18
Round Rock
First and foremost, legendary hip hop duo Kid N Play is going to be at this friendly get-together. While that should be more than enough to get you out and celebrating, the Round Rock festival offers plenty more. Popular R&B songwriter VEDO the Singer, the beloved DJ Jay Shalé, and a variety of local artists buff out the star-studded line-up. In addition to the specialty food and retail vendors, participants can expect a barbecue cook-off and moonwalks for the kids.

Dallas Southern Pride
Dallas Southern Pride
Dallas Southern Pride

‚Äč‚Äč‚Äč‚ÄčJuneteenth Unity Weekend Celebration

Thursday, June 16 – Monday, June 20
Dallas
The Black LGBTQIA+ group Dallas Southern Pride is hosting this fun multi-day Juneteenth celebration. With a myriad of club events and rooftop parties, the Unity Weekend brings out some of the livelier events on this list. Catch performances by groups like the hip hop duo City Girls and rapper Moneybagg Yo. Activities include the late-night party, the Black Royalty Emancipation Ball, and the Kirk Myers Signature Brunch & Pool Party. These are the events to check out if you’re looking for a night out as opposed to the family reunion vibes of other Juneteenth festivities.

City of Beaumont Juneteenth Celebration

Sunday, June 19
Beaumont
Beaumont has one of the highest percentages of Black residents in not just Texas but the country. Fittingly, the community is showing up with a great line-up of festivities. Taking place on Main street in downtown Beaumont, this event gives participants the chance to compete to see who makes the best pork ribs, chicken, and turkey in town. If showing off your barbecue skills is not your speed, there will also be plenty of food trucks to buy a snack from. Fill up on a solid plate of food and enjoy the fireworks, live music, and car show.

Brazos Valley Juneteenth Parade & Blues Fest

Saturday, June 18
Bryan
The Brazos Valley African American Heritage and Cultural Society brings a nice twist to the standard Juneteenth proceedings with an emphasis on the blues. Taking the form of a block party along 21st street, event-goers will be able to listen to a myriad of moving blues performances as they gather among community. The Saturday celebration will also feature a morning parade, an afternoon park celebration, and an evening gospel festival.

Jade Fabello is a contributor for Thrillist.

Austin

Get Lucky at These Irish Bars in Austin

Drink a green pint on St Patrick's Day at these Irish bars in Austin.

Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel

In the midst of all the SXSW chaos, it helps to remember that there’s a rainbow at the festival’s end-that is, the hangover-blessing we’ve been granted of having St. Patrick’s Day 2023 fall on a Friday. Whether you attribute this small win to the Gregorian calendar or the luck of the Irish, it’s sure to amp up the already liver-damaging activities associated with this cultural celebration. However, √Čire is more than just leprechauns and Colin Farrell-it’s a breathtaking land full of warm, welcoming, and good-hearted people. Fortunately, there’s a way you can get a taste of the Republic’s spirit, and a dark stout, at the same time by hitting up one of Austin’s various Irish pubs. From cozy, intimate spaces decked out like small taverns in Cobh, to modern dives with all the party energy of Temple Bar, our list has the best spots in the city to “erin go bragh” all out on March 17.

Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys
Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys
Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys

B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub at Mueller

Mueller
With a giant model of a beer tap literally decorating their front door, you can’t miss B.D Riley’s, nor doubt that this East Austin hang is a spot to down some serious brewskis. And its name, and perfect pours of Guinness, aren’t the only aspects they draw from the Emerald Isle-the entire pub itself was actually designed and built in Dundalk, Ireland, and shipped over for assembly in Bat City. Such authentic decor calls for equally authentic sounds, therefore, on St. Patrick’s Day, B.D. Riley’s will feature an all-day, four-artist bill of live, trad-inspired music. So, while you may not start the day knowing all the words to “The Galway Girl,” you are bound to sing along by last call.

Kelly’s Irish Pub

Bouldin Creek
Having only opened this past December, Kelly’s is the new kid with a brogue on the block. Occupying the space which formerly housed tapas restaurant Winebelly, this pub had big shoes to fill for South Austin barflies, but quickly won them over with an impressive whiskey selection and friendly atmosphere. A big reason behind the real deal √Čire vibes can, most likely, be chalked up to the fact that one of Kelly’s owners was actually born and bred in Ireland-and the dedication to delivering a true-to-life experience is evident in everything from the shepherd’s pie to the witty bartenders. For St. Patrick’s Day, they are getting the party started early with live music and an opening time of 8 am.

Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger's
Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger’s
Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger’s

Jack & Ginger’s

The Domain
While The Domain may boast more bars than you can shake a shamrock at, there’s only one spot in the North Austin entertainment behemoth that can be properly called an Irish pub: Jack & Ginger’s. Start off the night with selecting a tasting flight from their over 82 beers on tap, then, move onto shots poured straight from their Irish Whiskey Tours-after loosening up with a round or two, you might just find yourself with the gift of gab. And, before snapping a selfie over Jack & Ginger’s see-through glass floor, balance out that buzz with food offerings like a giant soft pretzel or a round of fried pickles.

Photo courtesy of Foxy's Proper Pub
Photo courtesy of Foxy’s Proper Pub
Photo courtesy of Foxy’s Proper Pub

Foxy’s Proper Pub

Downtown
Here’s a spot that visibly radiates with Irish pride-at Foxy’s, the glow of green beams out from the bar’s lighted panels, and across their chandelier made of Jameson bottles. When it comes to cups and chow, their commitment to the theme continues-the use of the word,”proper,” in the pub’s name alone indicates you’re in for a heavy pour of the standards. Consequently, the taps are abundant with essential Irish sips, including Guinness, Magners, and Smithwick’s. With Lone Star on draft, there’s also a nod to Texas tradition as well. But don’t fear if you’re bored of beer-Foxy’s variety of whiskey-based cocktails will let you switch it up (and still keep it Celtic). March 17 will find them celebrating with live music, whiskey tastings, and swag giveaways.

Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel

Cork & Barrel Craft Kitchen + Microbrewery

Round Rock
Compared to a flight to Dublin, the 30-minute drive to Round Rock’s Cork & Barrel is much more convenient-not to mention, won’t require waiting in a TSA line. A mix between a modern Austin beer garden and a historical Irish pub, this spot’s spacious interior and expansive outdoor patio guarantees there will be enough room for the whole crew to cheer “sl√°inte.” And, their microbrewery’s signature beers are the ideal drinks to do such a toast with. The menu of specially crafted drafts includes a blueberry wheat, an Irish red ale, and a vanilla stout. This St. Patrick’s Day also marks Cork & Barrel’s two-year anniversary, and they are throwing down for the double-celebration with live music, yard games, Irish food specials, and plentiful amounts of green beer and Irish Car Bombs.

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Molly Moltzen is a Thrillist contributor.

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