National Celebrations From Around the World Come to NYC

Written by Regan Hofmann on . Posted in Dining Our Town, Dining West Side Spirit, Eat & Drink, Our Town, Our Town Downtown, West Side Spirit.


The Fourth of July has come and gone, and with its weird mid-week placement on this year’s calendar, it left many feeling underwhelmed. Sure, there were fireworks and rooftop grills and too many cans of patriotically branded cheap beer, but some people took the days leading up to it off, some took the subsequent days off and some didn’t take any and stayed in the city resenting the others; there was no communal sense of vacation on the streets.

Luckily, there’s something about the sweltering summer months that foments revolution around the world; July and August are awash with national independence celebrations from all four corners. Let’s be honest: American patriotism is pretty easy to come by any day of the week, but when was the last time you got a chance to celebrate with some diehard Jamaicans? French? Here are a few other independence days coming up this month, and how to make the most of them.

Bastille Day celebrates one of the most iconic, if less than immediately successful, fights for independence in modern history—and the chicest by a long shot. French revolutionaries were distinguished by their rejection of all things aristocratic, including their clothes, and citoyennes (female revolutionaries) went corsetless while men were identified as sans-culottes, for their rejection of fancy breeches for Regular Joe pants. And while clamoring for a crust of bread sounds grim, it becomes a lot more understandable when you remember they were after perfectly crusty baguettes—maybe with a little Camembert to go with?

Celebrate the French way of life at the French Institute Alliance Francais’ annual block party on Sunday, July 15 from 12-5 p.m., on 60th Street from Lexington to Fifth Avenue. The city’s premier Bastille Day party, it’s guaranteed to have to most genuine French people—but may also have the most mimes. Buy a $20 all-access pass to the wine, cheese and cocktail tastings, and maybe by the time the roving mime makes her way to you, you’ll be willing to play along when she gets trapped in that darned box.

Jamaican independence was gained from the United Kingdom in 1962, after a slow, civilized process of governmental reform (take that, France!). The country still retains the British monarchy, and the head of state is technically the queen’s governor general, but all the power is wielded by the prime minister—just think of it as a Caribbean Canada, but with better music.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the celebration, which means the normally ebullient festival is going into overdrive. The country itself is celebrating for an entire year—you’ve still got a few months to book a trip to experience the real thing—but in New York City, it’s a day of music, food, awards and cultural presentations in Roberto Clemente Park in the Bronx on Aug. 4 (go to www.jamaica50anniversary.com for tickets). The city’s entire Jamaican community will be at the star-studded party, hosted by the “Jamaican King of Comedy” Oliver Samuels; mix and mingle while you enjoy roving steel drummers and all the patties, ginger beer and jerk chicken your spice centers can handle.

Peruvian pride is celebrated at the end of July every year to commemorate the country’s victory in its 12-year-long war for independence from Spain. The country had served as a stronghold for Spanish royalists as they fought similar rebellions in neighboring Ecuador and Chile; finally, working-class and rural Peruvians had enough and began fighting the “Lima oligarchy,” as they were known. Now, the party officially lasts for two days, July 28-29, though most focus on the 28, the date victory was actually declared.

It’s celebrated with the country’s iconic food and drink, which just so happen to also be perfect for summer: pisco sours and ceviche. The refreshingly tart cocktail and cool seafood salad are made for enjoying a sultry day; give it a go at Mancora (99 1st Ave., at 6th St., 212-253-1101), where complimentary plantain chips and salsa are the perfect salty-rich counterpoint to all that lime. ¡Viva el Peru!

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