Bastille Day: France’s National Day to be celebrated overmorrow
Daily Express: Bastille Day is one of the biggest days in the French national calendar. People mark the day with parties, festivals, fireworks and communal meals such as picnics. The day is a public holiday in France, with many businesses and banks closing their doors. Bastille Day is held annually on July 14, which this year falls on a Saturday. French people refer to the day as La Fete Nationale or Le 14 Juillet. A celebration of all things French, the event’s origins date back to a pivotal moment in the French Revolution – the Storming of the Bastille by troops in 1879. The Bastille was a medieval prison associated with the French monarchy’s unpopular rule at that time, headed by King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette.
The bloody event cost the lives of more than 200 people and would eventually result in the French Revolution. Both the King and Queen went on to lose their heads under the guillotine months later. The first Bastille Day celebrations occurred at the spot where the Eiffel Tower now stands. It first became a public holiday in 1880 after campaigning from politician Benjamin Raspail.
While the establishment of France as a republic was no doubt a violent chapter of its history, nowadays La Fete Nationale’s connotations are peaceful. The country’s biggest event is a huge military parade in Paris attended by the French president. Held annually in Paris since 1880 – except for during World War II – the ceremony sees servicemen and women file past crowds on horses along the Champs-Elysee. Thousands of people usually attend to watch the procession and the accompanying aerial display performed by military aircraft from above. People tend to dress in France’s national colours of blue, white and red, flying French flags. Bastille Day festivities are marked in many countries around the world where French nationals live.
The UK will see several French-themed festivals popping up for the day. The Bastille Festival in Reading offers participants the chance to enjoy French culture with performances, food and drink, and craft stalls to enjoy. Now in its seventh year, the popular festival returns on July 13 and 14