Photo: Wikimedia Commons
America’s Independence Day may have just passed, but if you’re still feeling festive and you’re looking for another reason to don your red, white, and blue, get in on the festivities this weekend to celebrate Bastille Day.The annual French holiday commemorating the storming of the Bastille and the start of French independence always takes place on July 14th, but people will be celebrating around the world all weekend long.
In Paris, the day starts with a military parade on the Champs-Elysees and ends with fireworks over the Seine and Eiffel Tower. All around France, there are parades, festivals and celebrations.
But there are plenty of French expats and Francophiles who want to join in on the celebrations–and they do so with Bastille Day fêtes all around the U.S.
To celebrate, do like the French and drink some Ricard or Pastis (anise-flavored liqueurs), play a game of pétanque (a French game reminiscent of Bocce), and eat some delicious French cheese.
Although Manhattan celebrates Bastille Day with an official parade that's sponsored by the French Institute Alliance Française (the parade is on Sunday in midtown), the real celebrations take place in Brooklyn, where the large French expat community leads the charge.
This Bastille Day block party, which takes place on Smith Street from Bergen to Pacific Streets in Cobble Hill, sees the quiet streets of Cobble Hill and Caroll Gardens transformed into a giant sandy pétanque court. (An 80-team pétanque tournament takes place throughout the day.)
The celebration centres around Bar Tabac, and will run from 11am to 10pm on Sunday. Expect live music, Pastis beverages, and French food.
New York City is also commemorating the French Holiday with a French Restaurant Week, with 53 French restaurants offering special menus for $17.89; it will run through Sunday, July 15th.
Seattle's Bastille Day Festival will take place at the Seattle centre on Saturday from 11am to 6pm.
Besides all of the usual festive features--French food, wine tasting, live music--there are also cultural and artistic exhibitions, like a Fleur de Lys fencing demo.
This festival also has lots for the kids, including French story time, a waiter's race, and French activities like le jeu de cocotte en papier (a type of origami paper folding) and la pêche aux canards (plastic duck fishing).
One of the rowdiest Bastille Day celebrations in the U.S. takes place in New Orleans. This city is steeped in French history and culture, and the people here love any excuse to party, so they throw a big Bastille Day celebration.
Festivities kick off on Friday night with fireworks on the Mississippi River and continue all weekend long.
There are parties all over the city, but one of the largest is in the French Quarter, where vendors and live bands set up shop, feeding and entertaining the crowds at the French Market. Here, there's a French dance band, a French dog contest, a waiter's and bartender's race, and even Marie Antoinette herself serving cake to the masses.
Milwaukee's Bastille Days is one of the more surprisingly elaborate festivals in the country: each year the city erects a small-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower, at about 45 feet.
Located in Milwaukee's Easttown, the festival has the requisite live music and performers, French language lessons, a French dog parade, and lots of food and drink vendors serving all sorts of French specialties. There's also a beer tent because, well, it's Milwaukee.
Bastille Days starts on Thursday and runs throughout the weekend.
Philadelphia celebrates Bastille Day with costumed actors re-enacting the storming of the Bastille, the beheading of Marie Antoinette, and other iconic French moments at the Eastern State Penitentiary, a historic prison that makes for the perfect setting for the Bastille Day festivities.
This is the 18th year that the Eastern State Penitentiary has hosted Bastille Day, and this year, it will take place on Saturday, July 14th.
This year's festival will be hosted by Edith Piaf with guest appearances by Napoleon, Joan of Arc, Benjamin Franklin, and a life-size French baguette. There will also be a performance by The Bearded Ladies, an experimental cabaret troupe that will present the entire French Revolution in two hours; a playful reenactment of the storming of the Bastille; and more.
Dress in French revolutionary costumes to really immerse yourself in the festivities.
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