Celebrating National Holidays Around the World

Nighttime Canada Day fireworks over Parliament on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario

Tomorrow is Independence Day in the United States, a day for burgers, baseball, and fireworks⁠—and for a variety of other traditions across the country (Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, anyone?). But July 4th is far from the only independence celebration happening around the world this week, or this month. Have you ever been to an independence day or national holiday celebration in another country? Read about a few here before planning your next trip⁠—you might be inspired to experience one yourself!

Canada (July 1)

Across the country, Canadians celebrate their national holiday on July 1st, often with parades and fireworks, but also with other events unique to each city. In Ottawa, people gather on Parliament Hill for an address by the Prime Minister and a show by the Royal Canadian Air Force, followed by concerts and fireworks. This year, over 10,000 people gathered for the occasion. In Toronto this year, festivities began a few days earlier over the weekend, with a celebration of Canada’s diversity on Multiculturalism Day on June 30th. Canada Day itself in the city includes Toronto Ribfest, a parade, and a fireworks display. Canadians in Winnipeg had multiple fireworks shows to attend, museum and zoo discounts, and a street festival complete with a pet parade.


France (July 14)

France celebrates its French National Day on July 14th every year, and is usually referred to as Bastille Day. Parisians can attend the annual military parade down the Champs-Élysées, followed by a fireworks display near the Eiffel Tower. Other towns, such as Marseille and Versailles, host spectacular fireworks displays as well. Bastille Day is also unique for the annual firemen’s balls in Paris, where firemen “open up their barracks and courtyards and throw a giant dance party for the people.”

South Korea (August 15)

Korea’s National Liberation Day, called Gwangbokjeol, is celebrated on the 15th of August every year. The name itself “means ‘light,’ ‘return’ and ‘festival day,’ referring to the restoration of national independence that was lost for 36 years under Japanese rule.” The day is marked across the country by hanging the Korean flag from homes, businesses, streetlights, etc. There is also an event held at the Independence Hall of Korea in Cheonan, which chronicles the historical significance of the day--also known in the U.S. as Victory over Japan Day.


India (August 15)

August 15th is also a major day of celebration in India, when they celebrate their Independence Day. The day commemorates the partition of India and Pakistan, and the end of British rule in the countries. While partition has created a great deal of tension between the two countries that continues to this day, Independence Day itself is a lively event across India. Events include parades and military marches, and cities and towns display the Indian flag and colors prominently on businesses and homes. In some parts of India, communities fly kites to celebrate “the spirit of freedom and joy.”

Kenya (December 12)

Kenya celebrates its independence from Britain every year on December 12th. The day is called Jamhuri Day, jamhuri meaning “republic” in Swahili. In cities and towns across the country, Kenyans gather in stadiums for parades, demonstrations, speeches, and music. The president typically attends and addresses the crowd at a celebration in Nairobi. At other events in Kenya, public officials read out the president’s speech from that day to their local crowds. Families also come together to feast on foods such as chapati, maandazi, roasted meat, and other popular Kenyan dishes.

Have you experienced a national holiday in another country? Tell us about it on our Facebook, or share your story by submitting a blog post here on CultureReady.