It’s the Fourth of July, and as you probably already know that means celebrations are about to kick off on the other side of the Atlantic. Arguably the most important holiday on the American calendar, Independence Day is marked across the country in a host of different ways.

If you want to embrace a little American spirit and mark the occasion too, read on to find out a bit more about some of the traditions that honour this event.


“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.” So wrote the founding father John Adams in a letter to his wife about the impending separation of the 13 colonies from British rule. He was wrong about the date; it would be the fourth day of July that would become forever significant, after a couple of extra days were needed to debate and revise the Declaration of Independence. However, he was certainly right that the event would be celebrated by every American generation to follow.

Adams called for the day to forever be marked by “pomp and parade” across the whole continent. He even suggested good ways to celebrate, including games, sports displays, shows, the ringing of bells, firing of guns, lighting of bonfires and illuminations.

Indeed, the day was honoured in style just one year later, with 13 gunshots fired in Bristol, Rhode Island, on July 4th 1777. Over in Philadelphia, boats and ships were decked out in red, white and blue bunting and the townsfolk celebrated with music, parades and fireworks.

The oldest regular annual Independence Day parade in the US takes place in Bristol, Rhode Island, and has done so since 1785. However, because it is a federal holiday, no matter where in the country you’re based, you are never far from a party.

The parade

Town and city parades are the most public celebration of Independence Day. Locals and visitors alike will often line the streets and wave flags as marching bands, dancers, veterans, walkers in fancy dress and floats make their way down the streets.

Often, the crowds will take food and deckchairs with them so they can get there early to secure a good spot on the parade route. Wearing red, white and blue clothing is a way to show off your patriotism.

Family time

Because it is a national holiday, on July Fourth families often travel across the country so they can spend it together. Thanks to the time of year, the date is usually hot and sunny, so friends and family put together picnics or hold barbecues at home to make the most of the sun.

With this in mind, the idea is to make dishes you can pack up and take outside to eat. The Food Network recommends treats like sweet lobster rolls with crispy bacon and salad, crab cakes, or cheese and tomato sandwiches, while on the BBQ it suggests mini pork cheeseburgers, southern-style grilled chicken in BBQ mustard sauce or Dijon glazed chicken wings. For dessert, treat yourself to an American classic like peach cobbler, pecan pie, chocolate chip cookies or, of course, apple pie.

Music and fireworks

These are the two most important elements of any Independence Day celebration. At parades, marching bands will play patriotic songs like The Star-Spangled Banner, This Land is Your Land, America The Beautiful and God Bless America.

The day is always rounded off with a huge fireworks display, with the Fourth of July celebrations in New York being the biggest. Millions of people head to the Big Apple every year to catch the Annual Macy’s Fireworks display over the Hudson River. This year, there’s the additional treat of being able to catch live performances from the likes of Taylor Swift and Mariah Carey.

Quirky traditions

While all these traditions are upheld across the country, around the US, towns and cities like to celebrate Independence Day in their own unique ways. For instance, Coney Island in Brooklyn holds Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, which attracts competitive eaters from all over the world to come and see how many of the classic NYC snacks they can chow down. The current record is 68 hotdogs in ten minutes and is held by Joey Chestnut.

In Boston, the Boston Pops Orchestra and Fireworks Spectacular takes place, with the pyrotechnics accompanied by music from one of the most famous orchestras in the world. Washington DC also holds a famous concert, this time on the Capitol Lawn. Millions of people head to this free party every July 4th.

Some of the famous small-town celebrations include a river raft regatta in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, lobster races in Bar Harbor, Maine, and a coaster race and mining competition in Bizbee, Arizona. The place with perhaps the most unusual tradition is the City of Allegan, which holds its annual Independence Day celebrations on July 3rd. A parade kicks off in the late afternoon after people finish work, and is concluded with a spectacular fireworks display.

If you’re planning to celebrate Independence Day today, we hope it’s an occasion to remember.