The Juneteenth Sunrise Service, Sunday morning, June 16, 2024 at 6 a.m.

juneteenth sunrise service

The Juneteenth Sunrise Service, Sunday morning, June 16, at 6 a.m. at the majestic Compton Oak on Market Square North – behind the Court House

Come enjoy an early outdoor service inspired by “Watch Night” (see below) under the most famous tree in Colonial Williamsburg.  Then head over to Sweet Tea & Barley for a special continental breakfast – perfect way to start Father’s Day and celebrate Juneteenth!

To commemorate the triumphant spirit of the African American journey, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation will host a Juneteenth Sunrise Service on Sunday morning, June 16, at 6 a.m. at the majestic Compton Oak on Market Square, a landmark tree symbolizing life, endurance, shelter, and joy. Special keynote address by world-renowned poet and writer Nikki Giovanni. 

The Juneteenth Sunrise Service is inspired by “Watch Night” (also referred to as “Freedom’s Eve”) — a tradition in Black churches across the United States born out of the enslaved community’s “waiting for the hour” on the night of December 31, 1862. With the coming dawn, the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863.

The first documented Sunrise Service was conducted for Easter in 1732 by the Moravian community in Herrnhut, Germany.[1] It appears that Moravians who came to the American colonies spread the tradition, which was taken up by several denominations, including Black and white churches.[2] Southern Black churches sometimes combined the Easter Sunrise Service with an all-night vigil, such as the Easter Rock, which still survives in Louisiana.[3] Sunrise Services in Black churches also celebrated other significant events, like the fall of Wilmington, North Carolina, to Union forces in February 1865.[4]  .

Click here to learn more.

See more Juneteenth Weekend Events here


  • Olivia Bada

    Marketing, communications, sales, writing, and web management all come together when working on published pieces for Localourist, The Burg Weekender, The Burg Weekly and Williamsburg Families.

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