Bastille Day 2022: When, celebrations and history

·3-min read
Bastille Day 2022: When, celebrations and history

Bastille Day marks a hugely significant day in French history and is widely celebrated by French people around the world.

It’s often marked by communal French feasts, parades, musical performances and concerts, as well as fireworks.

Known as la fête nationale in France, it is a national holiday with people in France enjoying a day of celebrations with friends and family.

However, Bastille Day commemorations were impacted by the pandemic, so 2022 will mark the first year of events running as normal in France.

Here’s everything you need to know about Bastille Day, including when it falls each year and why it’s so important.

What is the history of Bastille Day and when is it?

Bastille was the name of a political prison where political dissidents were kept during the French Revolution.

At the time, French people were deeply unhappy with the harsh rule of the Bourbon monarchy, with the reign of King Louis XVI bringing about food shortages and tax hikes for thousands of citizens.

On July 14, 1789, a violent mob stormed the Bastille and released the seven prisoners held there.

After the attack, the French Revolution was born. The monarchy was overthrown and Louis and his wife Marie Antoinette were executed.

Therefore, Bastille Day is celebrated on July 14 every year by French people around the world.

Why is Bastille Day important to French people?

A year after the Storming of the Bastille, the French began celebrating the Fête de la Federation.

There is an annual military parade along  Avenue des Champs Élysées (AP)
There is an annual military parade along Avenue des Champs Élysées (AP)

The day was meant to symbolise peace and brotherhood during the revolution and today, the founding message still remains prominent.

It is commonplace for the words “liberty, equality and fraternity” to be heard during the celebrations.

How is Bastille Day celebrated in France?

On Bastille Day, large-scale celebrations happen all over France, including musical performances, communal meals, dances and spectacular firework displays. People across France are given a day off as it is a public holiday, and some may opt to take Friday off for a long weekend as it falls on a Thursday in 2022.

On the morning of Bastille Day, there is a grand military parade where service men and women from various units take part, including cadets from military schools, the French Navy and the French Foreign Legion.

The French president traditionally opens the parade and reviews the troops and thousands of people line the route.

People in Paris can also watch out for a military aircraft flyover (REUTERS)
People in Paris can also watch out for a military aircraft flyover (REUTERS)

While celebrations had been affected by the Covid pandemic, there is set to be a huge military parade along the Avenue des Champs Élysées, along with a military aircraft flyover on July 14, 2022.

However, this year the parade will be headed by soldiers from nine eastern European NATO member countries, which are Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, as a way to honour and show solidarity amid the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine.

People in Paris can also look out for a firework display from 11pm (local time) by the Eiffel Tower on the Champ de Mars. This is set to continue for 30 minutes.

Are there any Bastille Day celebrations in London?

In London, the French Embassy has not made it clear what will be done to commemorate Bastille Day other than the embassies and consulates being “decked out in blue, white and red”, according to the French Diplomacy Twitter account.

In 2021, the French Embassy in London delivered thousands of viennoiseries to the staff of the Royal Brompton and Chelsea and Westminster hospitals as a thank you for their work throughout the Covid pandemic.

Last year, the Embassy also held a virtual celebration instead of the garden party that is traditionally held at the French Residence, with the Ambassador’s message being broadcast on its website and social media channels, where it is also using the hashtag #BastilleDayHeroes.

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