Curious what to do if you’re an American who wants to celebrate 4th of July in London? It’s not as awkward as you might think. In fact, it’s been my experience that the Brits love the holiday too. But, when I first moved to London, I wasn’t really sure exactly what would be the protocol for the day Americans celebrate their Independence.
As 4th of July in London got closer last year, I asked Mr. Sunny (a lifelong Londoner) what British people thought of the holiday. His response, ‘We love it. It’s the day we got rid of you people.’
Typical Mr. Sunny humour.
I was shocked at work when I was wished a ‘Happy July 4th’ from Brits throughout the day. I really didn’t know what to say. This year, tons of invitations hit my Sunny email for 4th of July in London parties. I chose to hit Trader Vic’s, an American company, because it had been on my list of places to try.
I also thought it would be fun to hear from other American bloggers to see what they think of 4th of July in London.
Meet Sarah, an American blogger in London:
Hi, I’m Sarah. I’ve been an expat in London for over two years now. My husband, teenage daughter, and I moved here from Nashville, Tennessee, (the greatest city in America!) where we had a small farm outside the city. We plan to be in London for a couple more years and then…who knows! I (occasionally) write about our travels and life in London on my blog, so if you want, come say hi! Or hey! Or ‘ello gov’na! Whatever you find regionally appropriate. 🙂
QUESTION: How do you feel about celebrating July 4th in the UK?
Coming from the south, where I believe we do the Fourth of July particularly well (eg. over-the-top fireworks shows; smoky, slow-cooked pit-style BBQ and homemade ice cream; all the country music greats belting out our favorite American pride songs – bonus points if it’s live!; celebrations that begin before noon and don’t end until the wee hours of the next morning – where you hope and pray everyone remembers to shoot the fireworks AWAY from their face this year), celebrating this great American holiday in London is, well, a little underwhelming by comparison.
I’ve got to hand it to London, though. Regardless of the fact that this day historically turned out much more favorably for us than our British counterparts, you will not be hard-pressed to find small festivals and parties throughout the city bringing a bit of the American Independence Day spirit across the pond. Still, I believe there’s an even better way to celebrate, which leads me to Sunny’s next question…
QUESTION: Do you have any advice for other Americans in the UK celebrating July 4th?
Recreate it yourself. Invite your friends, American or not, and throw a party in your own back garden. Grill out burgers and hot dogs and extra buttery corn-on-the-cob. Or go the extra mile and rent a smoker for BBQ and ribs. Have everyone bring an American-style side dish or a red, white, and blue dessert. Make the ultimate Fourth of July playlist. (I get compliments every year on mine!) Put on your cut-off shorts and cowboy boots, or whatever your standard Fourth of July outfit is.
It’s always bloody hot outside in London in July so that, at the very least, should make you feel right at home. Whatever you’re used to doing to celebrate the holiday, do it here. (Except maybe the fireworks. You could probably get into a bit of trouble for that…)
If you’re surrounding yourself with friends, good tunes, and fantastic food, it’ll be much easier to forget you’re not at home on our nation’s birthday. Just don’t forget the reason you’re celebrating in the first place ! 🙂
Meet American Blogger in London, Kelly:
I’m Kelly, a PR exec by day organizing events, liaising with fellow bloggers and the press. In my spare time, I’m a lifestyle blogger of Flat Eleven, writing, taking photos and attached to my phone on social media. You can generally find me with a coffee (or wine) in hand and adventuring around London.
QUESTION: How do you feel about celebrating July 4th in the UK?
In theory, celebrating the fourth of July in the UK should feel a bit strange as an American. But for some reason, I get the vibe that everyone in London loves to celebrate our great American holiday. Of course, it’s more likely that everyone loves a theme party and an excuse to drink and host a BBQ… nevertheless it’s almost like celebrating at home. Almost.
QUESTION: Has anything funny or awkward ever happened here regarding July 4th and your American nationality?
It’s the usual banter of ‘We let you have your independence” or a personal favorite of mine that my husband says is “What language do you speak?” (He actually really enjoys the fourth of July by the way, he married an American after all!)
QUESTION: What plans do/did you have for July 4th this year?
We’re planning to keep it casual, beers, BBQ and red, white and blue. Probably Instagramming too much and Tweeting about #AmericaTheBeautiful.
QUESTION: What advice do you have for other Americans in the UK celebrating July 4th?
Get into the spirit of it! We all love an excuse to celebrate and it’s our day. Play the host and throw a July 4th party for your friends, family, whoever. And give everyone back home a call too, it’s a day when you could feel a little bit homesick or missing out on your usual activities. So be sure to get out in London and have a great time. If you’re looking for American support, as bloggers we’re all very happy to help and point you in the right direction via social, etc. And we lucked out that it’s on the weekend this year! Happy Fourth in London!
Meet American Blogger in London, Shobha:
I’m an American expat living in London with my English husband and 2 kids. I blog about affordable luxury and family travel at Just Go Places I’ve also recently started a podcast providing inspiration and tips for interesting family travel options. You can also find me on Twitter.
I love taking a picnic and listening to the classical concert at Kenwood in Hampstead Heath on July 4th weekend. They have been doing these concerts for years. At the end of the concert, there is always a fireworks display as well. It’s a lovely if low-key way to celebrate July 4th in London.
This year though we’ll be spending July 4th in Iceland thanks to Icelandair’s fabulous offer of a free stopover in Iceland on your way from London to a number of US airports.
4th of July in London: Final Thoughts
Are you an American expat in London? How did you spend Independence Day? Are you British and have some thoughts on American Independence Day?
Also, if you’re an Expat or interested in the Expat experience, you can join a live stream chat show with me on Blab called ‘Expat Chat.’ If you’d like to learn more about the show, here is an introductory blog post about it.
My Blab account will show you all Expat Chat shows currently scheduled. If you subscribe, you can receive notification of the show’s start either through the Blab app or on your desktop, depending on your notification settings. See you there!