Celebrating French Victory Milwaukee Style

By Maurice Hughes
Director of Diversity Outreach

July 1, 2023

Bastille Days, celebrated in Milwaukee in Cathedral Square, is the largest French-themed outdoor festival in North America.

Every July Milwaukeeans across the city celebrate Bastille Days. Recognized by National Geographic as one of the best Bastille Days in the world, 2023 marked Cathedral Square’s 40th Anniversary of Milwaukee’s Bastille Days.

Bastille Day is celebrated July 14th each year to recognize the Storming of the Bastille which is a major event of the French Revolution. With the French’s major influence on the Milwaukee area (from the first European settler Jacques Marquette to Milwaukee’s first mayor Solomon Juneau), this festival allows the city to pay homage to its roots each Mid-July.

Bastille Day West

Along with the Cathedral Square celebration, on July 14th Bastille Day West is celebrated at Milwaukee’s West Vliet Street area (one day only). Local artists painting French-style Impressionists, an Eiffel Tower model contest, French Immersion School Choir, Escargot Bike Races, and more help make this event une expérience authentiquement française!

La Fête Nationale

Whether you call it Le Quatorze Juillet or La Fête Nationale, Bastille Day celebrations are a big deal in Paris and throughout France. There’s the daytime military parade on Champs-Elysées along with the famed Eiffel Tower fireworks and music. This date holds deep historical significance for the French, as it remembers the storming of the Bastille prison on the 14th of July, 1789, during the French Revolution.

So grab your beret, a striped shirt, and don your best neck scarf... and head over to the world’s biggest French celebration in Cathedral Square, or experience a more immersive French experience on Milwaukee’s West Side — or maybe travel to France to experience the thrill of La Fête Nationale. Either way, you’ll have varying degrees of une expérience authentiquement française!

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