“French Independence Day,” or Bastille Day, in New Orleans is one of the city’s many cultural celebrations. After the Native American tribes, the area’s original settlers were all French, and the French brushstrokes of the cities history can still be seen, heard, smelled, tasted and felt today. From French words on street signs to French restaurants—and the French Quarter, of course—France has left an indelible mark our rich culture and history, and Bastille Day is an annual way that the city treasures it.
This year, Bastille Day falls on Monday, July 14th, so the weekend before, July 11th through 13th, will be the main days for celebration throughout the city. Back in 2012, it was ranked as the No. 3 Bastille Day celebration in the world by Reuters, so this year is destined to be just as exciting and fun for all who attend.
One of the major Bastille Day events each year is a free block party hosted by the Faubourg St. John Merchants Association, usually held in the 3100 block of Ponce de Leon just off Esplanade Ave on Saturday evening. The Faubourg St. John is a quiet neighborhood of the city that was once home to many families of French Creole Aristocracy.
The celebration features live music performances where attendees merrily dance in the street, and local merchants sell food and beverages, including the neighborhood’s stores and businesses, who actively participate. The event is also complete with an art market featuring the works of local talent plus children’s activities and assorted fun for the whole family.
Other traditional events include pétanque games, which are similar to the Italian bocce and English lawn bowling and are played by 17 million people in France out of nearly 20 million people worldwide. There is also a French Dog Contest at Dutch Alley, where dogs dress in French styles, and a pup parade marches to Washington Artillery Park. There has also been a wreath laying at the Joan of Arc statue and a waiters and bartenders race. You can also find other activities at the French Market and the Old U.S. Mint in the French Quarter.
It’s a huge party each year, attracting many visitors and locals who take the chance to meet up with friends for a weekend of fun.