Monday, June 17, 2024

Colonial Williamsburg to Offer First-Ever Free Admission Day to Celebrate Juneteenth

(WYDaily/Ben Mackin)

WILLIAMSBURG — In observance of Juneteenth, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is offering free admission to the Historic Area and the Art Museums on June 19 from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

This marks the first time in the foundation’s history that the entire museum will be open to the public at no cost.

Free Colonial Williamsburg admission on June 19 coincides with other Juneteenth programming across the region coordinated by the Juneteenth Community Consortium, an association of organizations throughout Greater Williamsburg that organized in early 2022 with a common goal to educate, commemorate, and celebrate Juneteenth.

“This year we are honored to partner as never before with a broad spectrum of organizations to commemorate Juneteenth,” said Cliff Fleet, president and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “By opening our doors to the community, we hope to share our educational spaces, programs and other resources with the widest audience possible.”

Juneteenth marks the emancipation of thousands of enslaved people. On June 19, 1865, federal forces arrived in Galveston, Texas, to enact Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation signed more than two years earlier. Slavery would not come to an end in several other states until after the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in December of that year. President Biden signed legislation on June 17, 2021, making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

While Juneteenth provides a special opportunity to educate and reflect on the Black experience in America, that work is not limited to one day each year.

Colonial Williamsburg’s Juneteenth programming is part of the foundation’s ongoing work to share a more complete history of America and can be experienced in the Historic Area and the Art Museums throughout the year.

Programming highlights on June 19


  • A Taste of Freedom: the story of Americus Weston and his journey to freedom; Hennage Auditorium, 1:30 p.m.
  • Visit with a Nation Builder: a one-woman performance exploring the hopes, choices, and challenges that Edith Cumbo faced in Williamsburg and beyond; Charlton Stage, 11:45 a.m.
  • Visit with a Nation Builder: a one-man performance exploring the hopes, choices, and challenges that Gowan Pamphlet faced in Williamsburg and beyond; Charlton Stage, 2:45 p.m.
  • My Story My Voice – Sam’s War: a compelling story from the life of an 18th-century person, followed by a conversation with the actor interpreter as they share how they discover and bring to life a voice from the past; Charlton Stage, 4 p.m.

Family programming

  • Loquacious Lucy, Queen for a Day: a play designed to help families discuss slavery with their children; Play House stage, 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m.


  • Freedom’s Paradox Tour: a 60-minute walking tour exploring the paradox of the institution of slavery and the movement for independence. Peyton Randolph House, 12 p.m., 1:45 p.m., 2:45 p.m., 3:45 p.m.

Archaeological sites: 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

  • Bray School Archaeological Project: The Williamsburg Bray School was an 18th-century institution dedicated to the education of enslaved and free Black children in Williamsburg. Archaeologists discuss work underway to relocate the original Bray School building to Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area.
  • First Baptist Church Archaeological Site: The First Baptist Church of Williamsburg is one of the country’s earliest African American congregations and was founded by free and enslaved Black worshippers. Visit the site of the congregation’s original structure which Colonial Williamsburg’s archaeologists uncovered in 2021 in partnership with the First Baptist Church of Williamsburg and the Let Freedom Ring Foundation.
  • Custis Square Archaeological Project: This interdisciplinary archaeological project examines the long-hidden landscapes at Custis Square, the ornamental grounds designed by John Custis IV (1678-1746), and the places where enslaved men and women lived and worked on the property.

Programming locations

  • Play House Stage: in Historic Area, off Palace Green.
  • Charlton Stage: in Historic Area, behind Charlton Coffeehouse on east end of Duke of Gloucester Street.
  • Hennage Auditorium: inside Art Museums located at 301 S Nassau St.
  • Peyton Randolph House: in Historic Area, at the corner of W. Nicholson and N. England streets.
  • Bray School original site: 107 North Boundary St., outside the Historic Area at the corner of Prince George and Boundary streets.
  • The Historic First Baptist Church – Nassau Street archaeology site: across from the Art Museums lawn on the northwest corner of Nassau and Francis streets.
  • Custis Square archaeology site: to the side of the Art Museums lawn; on the southeast corner of Nassau and Francis streets.

For detailed information about parking as well as interactive and downloadable maps, visit Free parking lots are located at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center and the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. Paid parking lots, located around the perimeter of the Historic Area, require the free Passport app but also offer free two-hour parking in most cases. Parking at the Prince George Parking Garage, located at 230 N. Henry St., is free for the first 30 minutes and $1 an hour afterward (maximum $12 a day).

Tickets are not required for general admission on June 19 to any Historic Area or Art Museums programming typically included in a general admission ticket. Event tickets are still required for events that fall outside of general admission programming such as carriage rides, evening programs, and the musket range. Event tickets can be purchased online or at one of our onsite ticket offices located at the Visitor Center, the Art Museums or the Lumber House.

For a full timeline of events, visit

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