August 15 has been Liechtenstein’s National Day since 1940, when it was selected for two reasons. First of all, this date was chosen because it was already a bank holiday held for Assumption of Mary Day, an important religious festivity in largely Roman Catholic Liechtenstein.
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The second reason August 15 was chosen is because it was the day before then-reigning Franz Josef II’s birthday. This made it easy to combine two holidays into a single two-day celebration.
Unlike most countries, National Day in Liechtenstein has nothing to do with the nation’s gaining its independence. That occurred in 1866, when the German Confederation Liechtenstein had been a member of was dissolved.
Even after the passing of Franz Joseph II in 1989, the August 15th date was continued as National Day. In Liechtenstein, it is called “Staatsfeiertag.”
Every year on National Day, there is a special celebration at Vaduz Castle. Great crowds congregate on the lawn in front of the castle, many of them coming from neighbouring and even far off countries to attend the events. Royal and elected leaders of Liechtenstein give speeches, and a festive reception is held in the castle’s garden.
There are also parades, a fair that stays open till the wee hours of the next morning, and various cultural activities. The day closes with an impressive fireworks display. The beautiful colours exploding in the night sky above Vaduz Castle is truly a remarkable sight.
Despite its small size, Liechtenstein is one of the most interesting countries to visit in all Europe, and National Day is arguably the best day to visit.