Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Mon July 04 2016

How To Celebrate The Fourth of July If You're Overseas

Features & Advice | Josh Lew | July 04, 2016

How To Celebrate The Fourth of July If You're Overseas

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

The Fourth of July is marked with fireworks and parades throughout the United States. For obvious reasons, things are decidedly more low key for Americans working, living or traveling in other countries on Independence Day. However, there are still plenty of chances to celebrate. Even non-patriotic US citizens might find some of the overseas July 4 events worthwhile. 

According to the Association of Americans Overseas, more than six million citizens (not including armed forces) live outside the United States, so there is probably a group of expats celebrating somewhere near you. 

Your best bet: local American-themed restaurants or bars

In some international destinations, American-owned restaurants and bars (or locally-owned bars that happen to be popular with American expats) host celebrations. For example, Claw BBQ, in Dubai’s Souk al Bahar, will be decorated in red, white and blue this weekend. Drinks of the same colors will be on special at the bar. In addition to the house specialty, crab legs, the holiday menu will include eight different burgers, corn dogs and chili cheese fries. 

Other American-themed restaurants and sports bars will have similarly themed food and atmosphere this weekend.  

READ MORE: Independence Day Holiday Weekend: By the Numbers

Official events

Some events are more official. Shanghai’s American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham - China) puts on a family celebration with activities like face painting. Caterers are hired to serve American barbecue staples for the day. Other similar organizations and groups offer a similar kind of celebration.   

Ironically, according the the Washington Post, China is actually an important part of the Independence Day celebrations here in the United States. Many of the flags, fireworks and tri-colored t-shirts that are used to celebrate the holiday is manufactured in China.  

Locals get in on the celebrations too

Some cities have a huge number of options. In years past, Melbourne, Australia had a whole list of restaurants and bars that offer a 4th of July theme. Because of the popularity of these nights in the past, things should be the same this year as well. According to the Aussie lifestyle site Urban List, locals have as good a time with the sometimes-over-the-top American-themed parties as expats do. “To everyone else, it's a chance to acknowledge the day's significance and a good excuse to celebrate everything we love about the good ol' US of A. That means stuffing our faces with deep fried food and milkshakes while shaking our collective booty to everything from honkytonk to classic hip-hop.”  

There are fireworks at many of the American military bases around the world, especially in Germany, but don’t expect too many pyrotechnics elsewhere. 

Mixing July 4 with local events

The advantage of opting for a more low key celebration at a restaurant or bar is that you will have more time for whatever local events happen to be taking place in early July. The Montreaux Jazz Festival runs through the first half of the month. This is one of the most prestigious musical events in the world. You can still get your Fourth fix at the American International Club of Geneva’s Independence Day party or at a number of restaurants and bars in the region before heading to Montreaux.

So if you are overseas, your best bet for the Fourth is to find an American-themed restaurant or bar, or perhaps to see what the local American clubs or organizations are doing. (Or you could just quietly toast the signing of the Declaration of Independence at home with a few expat friends and a barbecue).  


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