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Arts & Culture

Bastille Day Fête: New Orleans Celebrates Bastille Day

The 2012 Bastille Day Fete in New Orleans is a weekend-long celebration of French Independence with dinners, cooking demos, a fireworks show and the waiters race!

Bastille Day is coming up on July 14 and to celebrate our French Heritage, brace yourself: New Orleans is throwing a party. But not just any party, a Fête! The Bastille Day Fête is a full weekend long (July 13-15) Bastille Day blow out that has something for everyone, even the pooches.

The festive settings for the Bastille Day Dinner! (Photo by Julie de l'Afno)

The Bastille Day Fête kicks off on Friday, July 13 with a Bastille Day Dinner at Galvez Restaurant at 8:00 p.m., but don’t expect to get in the day of. Tickets must be bought ahead of time (by July 9) and can be ordered from the Alliance Française of New Orleans. Can’t make the dinner gala? Then make sure you find yourself outside at 9:00 p.m. for the fireworks show over the Mississippi River. Your best spot to catch the show will be in Dutch Alley, where a band will entertain your ears as the fireworks engage your eyes.

On Saturday morning, the Fête goes to the dogs! A French dog contest kicks off in Dutch Alley at 9:00 a.m., where judges will be looking for the best Poodles, French bulldogs, Bichons, and all dogs dressed in French style. After that, the town is packed with events.

A wreath laying at the Joan of Arc statue kicks off the rest of the events for the day at 10 a.m., after which, the French Market will play host to a morning reception and cooking demos, while the Old U.S. Mint hosts the Bal Populaire. The Bal Populaire will feature French music, dancers and plenty to eat and drink. Down in the Warehouse District, the Children’s Museum will host a French heritage celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday comes to a close with the Faubourg St. John Block Party in the 3100 block of Ponce de Leon Street. French food, drinks, crafts and entertainment for the whole family start up at 4 p.m. and takes you right on through to 9 p.m. I’m really looking forward to getting in a few games of Pétanque, which is a French game very similar to bocce.

Waiters speed walking to victory! (Photo by Eliot Kamenitz, courtesy of the Times-Picayune)

While the festival may wind to a close on Sunday, the fun isn’t over quite yet! Sunday features more French cooking demonstrations at the French Market and one other great event, the Waiters Race. The race is a recent annual tradition that is quickly becoming a local favorite. At 4 p.m., local waiters and bartenders will race from Artillery Park (across from Jackson Square), down Decatur Street and to the French Market all while carrying a service tray loaded with full glasses. So what’s the catch? Every good waiter knows there is no running in the dining room, so contestants can only speed walk! The winner is the first person to cross the finish line without running or spilling. So get on out there and cheer on your favorite servers to victory!

Bastille Day Fête
July 13-15

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