Whatever time of year you visit France, there will be a festival happening somewhere. Even in the dead of winter you’ll find a festive gathering, such as a music festival or a Christmas market. Here’s a summary throughout the year!
Mid-February: If you’re near Nice, check out the Carnaval. In 2019 it’s Feb. 16-28. If you like over-the-top floats, entertainment, and animation…and crowds, this is for you. Have a look at this video to get the flavor: http://en.nicecarnaval.com/videos
February (2nd half): Lemon Festival in Menton. Reputed to be the sunniest city in France, Menton is also very close to Italy and home to the annual Lemon Festival, in its 86th year in 2019. This festival welcomes 200,000 people and features sculptures made of oranges and lemons, acrobats, drummers, parades, and floats. 2019 dates are February 16 through March 3.
April: International Kite Festival in the town of Berck-sur-Mer, in the north of France on the English Channel. April 6 through 14th. See videos: http://www.cerf-volant-berck.com/ricv/index.php?page=les-ricv-en-videos
April to early November: A Garden Festival at the Chateau de Chaumont in the Loire Valley. Come see 30 lovely themed gardens. Starts April 25, 2019.
May: Cannes Film Festival. Thought I’d mention this, though you can’t go except by invitation. You might get a glimpse of someone famous while you’re enjoying the coastal city of Cannes.
May: Medieval Festival of Sedan (Northern France, in the region of Champagne) Website: www.chateau-fort-sedan.fr Here you’ll live the medieval era with traditional banquets, fairs, tournaments, wrestling competitions and sword duels await festivalgoers. The medieval fest runs from May 18 to 19, 2019.
June: Pentecost Festival in Nimes (Provence) lasts 5 days, beginning with a parade. Website: www.ot-nimes.fr 018, the Feria de Pentecôte will run from 31 May to 27 July, with such distinguished guests as Patrick Bruel and Elton John. https://30.agendaculturel.fr/festival/festival-de-nimes-2019.html program
June to early August come to the oldest festival in France, since 1860, one dedicated to opera and classical music, the Chorégies d’Orange: www.choregies.fr It takes place in the Roman theater in Orange, France and has predictably amazing acoustics. (Provence) It welcomes 9000 spectators each year.
June to August: Carcassonne Festival Website: www.festivaldecarcassonne.fr Music, theatre, dance inside the famed walled city in southern France.
June 21: Fête de la Musique, which features street music all over France. www.fetedelamusique.culture.fr
July 14: Of course, Bastille Day! All over the country this national holiday is celebrated. Here’s website for more details for Paris happenings. July 14: Bastille Day www.parisinfo.com
July and August, two events happen in Paris: Paris Quartier d’Eté is a summer festival in July and August. See details here: https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-show-exhibition/134404/festival-paris-lete
Also, don’t miss Paris Plage, from mid-July to mid-August each year. Along the central part of the Seine and also the St. Martin Canal in the northeast of the city, the beach comes to Paris.
August: Lorient Interceltic Festival: 10 days of Celtic culture, recalling the celtic roots of Brittany in music and dance. Website: www.festival-interceltique.bzh 800,000 people come each year.
August, last week: Rock en Scene is a 3-day rock concert that attracts 100,000 people each year in the west of Paris.
Mid-September: Beer Festival in Mulhouse Website: festivalmondialbiere.qc.ca in Alsace
September, late: World Puppet Festival for 10 days in the Champagne region of France (see post) 200 shows, 150,000 spectators. Website: www.festival-marionnette.com
October: Paris Fringe Fest: English language theater festival in Paris for 2 weeks in ParisWebsite: www.parisfringe.org
November to December in Lille, enjoy the month-long Christmas Market Website: www.noel-a-lille.com at Place Rihour. Children’s Entertainment, Ferris wheel, Père Noël,
December: Feast of St Nicolas, Nancy, in the east of France for 2 days in early December. Equestrian parade, craft market, theatre, exhibitions, concerts and fireworks.
December: Festival of Lights, Lyon. December 4-8; every household puts a candle in the window in honor of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Other activities involving light. Fête des Lumières. Website: www.fetedeslumieres.lyon.fr
There’s something to celebrate all over France all year long!