America is well known for doing things bigger, better and bolder than everyone else, and nowhere is this more obvious than during US public holidays. If you’re in the process of planning your holidays to the States, it’s worth keeping an eye on the calendar to see which US public holidays fall when and where. While there are some big ones that everyone knows about, there are also some smaller and more obscure events that are still a great excuse for a celebration, a BBQ, and a big dollop of that wonderful American extravagance.
Possibly the most famous of all the US public holidays, you can’t escape Independence Day celebrations, no matter where you go. Held on the 4th July to celebrate independence from Britain in 1776, Independence Day is celebrated right across the country. For the ‘granddaddy’ of all parties, book your holidays to New York and enjoy the Fourth of July Fireworks and Independence Day Parade, sponsored by the iconic department store, Macy’s.
Alternatively, and for something completely different, head to Coney Island for Nathan’s Famous Hotdog Eating Contest, where the qualifying average is 70 hotdogs in 10 minutes.
For more pomp and ceremony than you can shake a star-spangled stick at, book your holiday to Washington DC for an astonishing midday parade, followed by a free, 90-minute concert from the National Symphony Orchestra, finished off by cannon-fire.
While Christmas in New York is the backdrop for many romantic films, there are other places to experience this, popular of US public holiday. Grapevine has been lovingly nicknamed ‘ The Christmas Capital of Texas’ and is the perfect destination for those travelling with families or who want to enjoy some festive fun with their loved one. The celebrations take place over 40 days, involving almost 1,500 events, literally millions of fairy lights, the North Pole Express, and much, much more.
For something more laid-back, head to New England for the Luminaria celebrations. Take a walk along a candlelit beach or put your snowshoes on and follow the trail of lights through the winter wonderland around Elephant Butte.
Martin Luther King Jr Day
To celebrate the life, work and achievements of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr, annual celebrations are held on the third Monday in January. While there are festivities across the country, the focus is very much on local communities, making it one of the best US public holidays in which to immerse yourself in the real culture of America. Memphis’ National Civil Rights Museum hosts a packed program of performances, poetry and arts and crafts, with the proceeds going to local charities.
If you’re looking for some greenery, 500 of the US’ national parks waive their entrance fees and allow visitors in for free. Washington DC shows its support, with the moving Annual Walk for Peace and the spectacular Martin Luther King Jr Parade. To learn more about the great man’s life and enjoy some entertainment at the same time, make your way to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, housed at the Smithsonian Institute.