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How do European countries celebrate US Independence Day?

What Americans think Europe looks like
What Americans think Europe looks like Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Jonny Walfisz
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Happy Fourth of July to Americans everywhere! If you happen to be in Europe, you might be wondering where and how you can celebrate.


Today, the United States celebrates its Independence Day. Often just called by its date, the Fourth of July is a federal holiday across the US that commemorates the day in 1776 that the founding fathers ratified the Declaration of Independence from the UK, then ruled by King George III.

In the US, the Fourth of July will be spent outside, eating copiously, drinking weak beer, watching fireworks explode and… shooting guns? We’re not really sure, this is a European publication.

It’s hard to say exactly how many Americans are living in Europe today as numbers have to be estimated as expats aren’t always registered as such in foreign countries. However, from the Department of Defence's Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), we can say that there were at least 1,322,113 living in Europe in 2018 that were eligible to vote.

As that’s a low estimate, it seems fair enough to look at what ways the millions of Americans living on European soil might want to celebrate their Independence Day on the continent.

United Kingdom

It seems logical to start off with the nation the US got its independence from. While the country was forged on animosity for the once-great empire, relations have tempered and the US and UK now have a closely tied special relationship.

One of the best ways to celebrate the Fourth of July is by going to the Benjamin Franklin House in London. The former home of the founding father has been decorated for Independence Day and will provide refreshments alongside specialised tours to celebrate the day.

Also in London’s Portman Square, the Democrats Abroad United organisation is hosting its annual celebratory picnic for the day. Republicans are also invited.


While in the UK, Independence Day is associated first with the US holiday, second the schlocky Will Smith movie. It’s only the absolute weirdos that think of Brexit day (23 June 2016) when you say the term.

The city of Sisteron celebrating Bastille Day
The city of Sisteron celebrating Bastille DayCanva

Not so in France. They have their own Independence Day that’s marked 10 days later in the calendar. Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 and signifies the start of the French Revolution.

As such, the French don’t go in as hard on celebrating the Fourth of July as the Brits. However, during the period between the First and Second World Wars, the French did celebrate the Fourth of July to honour the “sister republic” that helped them win their fight against Germany. The tradition disappeared almost immediately after the Second World War.

Once again, you can rely on Democrats Abroad United for some activities if you’re in the lurch for American friends. They’re holding picnics in Rennes and Paris on the day, with more in Bandol, Avignon, Nice, Toulouse, and Bordeaux on Saturday.

Europeans and Americans getting along
Europeans and Americans getting alongDave Martin/AP1999


In Germany, it’s quite easy to spend a day celebrating as the Americans might as they have a similar, if slightly altered take on American indulgences. Where the US has hot dogs, Germany has bratwurst. Where the US has terrible beer, Germany has good beer. In really big glasses.

Our advice for Americans spending the Fourth of July in Germany would be to get yourself down to a Spätis, pick up a few bottles of Weißbier and then soak up all that alcohol with a Currywurst.

Failing that, you could always take yourself down to the German Embassy where they will be running some celebrations, including a speech by the ambassador, renditions of the US and German national anthems and a firework show.

Who doesn't love a good bang?
Who doesn't love a good bang?Canva


While the Fourth of July is somewhat a non-event in most of Europe, communities in Spain take it quite seriously. In Málaga, it’s seen as an opportunity to celebrate Spaniard Bernardo de Gálvez who led the colonists against the English in Florida to win the battle of Pensacola.

The Spanish military leader’s feats were celebrated by George Washington at the time, who marched side by side with him at the victory parade in Philadelphia. Today, Gálvez is celebrated both in Málaga and Pensacola with a local holiday and places named after him.

To recognise Gálvez, the Macharaviaya municipality stages a military parade in his honour on the Saturday nearest to the Fourth of July.

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