The Long Beach Juneteenth Celebration is one of the largest Juneteenth festivals in California. Here’s what to know before you go!
Juneteenth officially became a federal holiday in June 2021. While the historical origins may be in Texas, that definitely shouldn’t stop you from celebrating the holiday in Southern California. The Long Beach Juneteenth Celebration is an annual festival that inspires unity by bringing the community together to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved Black people in the United States. Black culture is not only highlighted during this celebration, it’s uplifted through a day of programming that features cultural performances, live music, activities, and art. Read on for tips to help you prepare and plan your experience:
Exciting Performances and Activities
Simply put, the Long Beach Juneteenth Celebration is good old-fashioned fun. There is no way you can attend this festival and not be entertained! This year the event was hosted by local radio station KJLH, and headlined by singer-songwriter Marsha Ambrosius from the renowned R&B duo Floetry. There were also performances by Rahsaan Patterson, Katalyst Jazz, and Gee Mack & Asia Raye along with a Black Greek Step Show and LA’s Dorsey High School Drum Line & Drill Team. Some people may not consider participating in a line dance like The Wobble or the Electric Slide an activity, but when you’re joined by almost 100 other people it sure feels like one! And don’t worry if you aren’t up to speed on the steps, there’s always someone nearby willing to let you follow their lead.
Enjoy delicious food
One of the best things about attending any festival in Southern California is the food trucks. For Juneteenth, it’s only fitting to be able to choose from an array of Black American specialties, and the lineup at the Long Beach Juneteenth Celebration doesn’t disappoint. There were several food trucks present to satisfy nearly any craving. In the mood for NOLA-inspired fried catfish? Harold & Belle’s had you covered. Hungry for lemon pepper wings after the cha-cha slide? Comfortwingz was there with platters that hit the spot. And for those who have a sweet tooth, LA favorite The Kobbler King supplied the pies. Pro tip: be prepared with both cash and a credit card. Most food trucks accepted credit cards as a form of payment, but it’s always best to carry about $25 cash for backup.
The Beautiful Location
The 2022 festival was held at Rainbow Lagoon Park, a gorgeous waterfront location perfect for a sun-filled celebration. Long Beach experiences nearly 345 days of sunshine each year, with summer temperatures averaging between mid 70s-80s (Fahrenheit.) While June can be warm, there’s almost always a gentle breeze from the ocean that keeps the temperatures from scorching. In addition to incredible weather, the spacious park is surrounded by palm trees, making it the perfect place for a joyful celebration. Bring your own folding lawn chairs or blankets for comfort, and plenty of sunscreen and hand sanitizer to apply throughout the duration of the event.
It’s family friendly
The Juneteenth Celebration in Long Beach is an event that’s fun for all ages! Being there feels like a family reunion, not because you know everyone, but because of the diverse group of people that attend. Aunties gather on lawn chairs while families congregate by the food trucks, and friend groups of 20-somethings set up picnics on the grass. One thing I personally enjoyed about the festival is that the environment was family-friendly, but there weren’t kids running around everywhere. There was a dedicated area for children called the kids zone which kept them entertained with various activities. The festival also feels very safe, with a security check and metal detection scan required for entry.
An opportunity to support Black-owned business
If you love pop up markets, this is the event for you. Equity is an important facet of honoring Juneteenth, and the Long Beach Celebration offers attendees an opportunity to put their money into the hands of small Black-owned businesses. This year there were a variety of businesses to support, selling everything from homemade scented candles to commemorative t-shirts. There were also quite a few booths hosted by organizations that serve the local community, like the African American Cultural Center of Long Beach. Most vendors were accepting credit cards as a form of payment, but when it comes to festivals your best bet will always be a mix of credit card and cash to be on the safe side.
Admission to this event is free, but guests are asked to register for tickets at LBJuneteenth.com. Tickets sold out this year, so make sure to register early! For the best experience, even if you’re local, I recommend staying at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach. It’s less than 5 minutes walking distance to the event, and has incredible views of the Long Beach Harbor to come back to after a long day of celebration. The hotel is conveniently located in the very walkable downtown Long Beach area, so you can even make long weekend out of it! Check out this blog post for tips to build out your itinerary.
Have you celebrated Juneteenth in Long Beach? Is it on your list now? Drop any comments or questions below!
This blog post was sponsored by Visit Long Beach, but as always all opinions are my own.