Discover how rich the France is in terms of festivals, having fun and celebrating whatever, whenever it can! That’s the spirit!
Another thing that France is famous for, are the festivals. I have learnt that the French love to have fun, enjoy life and celebrate everything they can. They really know how to enjoy every moment of their lives, and we should take an example.
Secondly, as I mentioned many times, the French do not go on compromise when it comes to the quality, and they have a very rich and interesting history therefore the French festivals are something that will definitely impress you and surprise you nicely.
There are very many festivals in France depending on the type we can try to divide them between:
- Traditional French Festival
- Cultural French Festivals
- Food French Festival
- Music French Festivals
- Family French Festivals.
Today, I want to present you The Best Traditional and Cultural French Festivals which you should experience when in France! These festivals reflect the major events, traditions and are celebrated nationwide but also in particular cities of France by the French who travel there to take part. The French are very proud of their tradition and history and never miss a chance to participate in national and local important festivals so I can always see crowds of people and kids excited to celebrate any of them.
- Fete de la Musique is the biggest street music festival happening across the whole France. It takes place on the 21st of June and is certainly one of the most popular festivals in France. Starting in the afternoon, and continuing until the early hours of the morning, streets across France are full of artists and public singing and dancing. The idea is that for this one night the street is transformed into a stage, where both amateur and professional musicians can show off their talent. You’ll find everything from rap to opera, and anyone with a musical skill is encouraged to participate.
- Fête Nationale known as Bastille Day, is the most famous national festival of France happening on 14 July. This important national holiday is to celebrate the anniversary of the storming of the infamous Bastille prison during the French Revolution. Bastille Day French festival is celebrated all over the country with military parades and fireworks. While the most impressive displays take place in the capital, Bastille Day is a festive occasion in all parts of France, as people turn out onto the streets to enjoy their national holiday.
- Fête du Cinéma happening at the beginning of the summer holidays, it is eager anticipated festival celebrated across the whole country. The idea is that for a few days only, cinema tickets across the country are discounted to just €4, encouraging millions of people out to watch classic and modern films from all over the world.
- Mardi Gras is celebrated all over France and especially in the south of France, where are the best parades, street parties and fancy dress parties happening. Mardi Gras is literally taken from the French meaning ‘fat Tuesday’. It represents a day of excess prior to the Lenten fasting season and is an excuse to eat up all the delicious foods that would be prohibited in the run-up to Easter. It is a historic tradition and festival rooted in the Catholic faith. However, nowadays, the festival has lost most of its religious association and is focused on celebration of colour, food, dancing and music.
- Festival de Cannes known by the world as the Cannes Film Festival is an annual film festival held in Cannes, which previews new films of all genres, including documentaries from all around the world. Founded in 1946, the invitation-only festival is held annually at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. It is the biggest, most prestigious French and International festival which gather in the French Riviera the international film starts to celebrate and to win the prestigious Palme d’Or recognition.
- Festival international de la bande dessinée d’Angoulême is the second largest comics festival in Europe after the Lucca Comics & Games in Italy, and the third biggest in the world after Lucca Comics & Games and the Comiket of Japan. Happening every year since 1974 in Angoulême, in January, it’s a very famous french cultural festival that should not be missed by any comic fan.
- La Feria d’Arles is a popular festival focused on bull activities (especially bullfighting). It is held each year in Arles, twice a year: one in mid-September and one in April. The Easter feria in April opens the French bullfighting season and attracts more than 500,000 people, including 50,000 who assist with the bullfights in the Arles Amphitheatre. There are many abreviados and bull games organized in the city and people gather in the streets with bodegas, moving orchestras and concerts.
- Fête du Citron is a traditional festive event organized every year, during February, in the city of Menton. This festival is also called carnival of Menton and celebrates the production of Menton lemon. It’s impressive! For two weeks all the oranges and lemons take over the city of Menton. There are parades of fruit-covered floats by day and by night, with 10-metre high statues and models made from citrus in the Biovès Gardens.
- Festival d’Avignon is celebrated every summer in the beautiful, historic town of Avignon which is transformed into an international stage. The Festival d’Avignon is one of the largest performing arts events in the world and attracts thousands of artists every year. You’ll find music, theatre, dance and all kinds of visual arts, crammed into a packed schedule running over three weeks. It is a truly inspiring place to visit, even if you’re not booked into the big shows.
- La Roche-sur-Yon International Film Festival is a film festival created in 2001. Renewed in 2010, it takes place every year in mid-October in the town of La Roche-sur-Yon in Vendée. In 2017, it attracted an estimated 24,000 attendees from October 16 to 22, and its popularity is growing every year.
- Nice Carnival is one of the world’s major carnival events. It is held annually in February in Nice on the French Riviera and lasts over two weeks. The historical records say that the first Nice Festival was organized in 1294. In 1873, a committee was created for the Carnival and the Carnival was reinvented into a parade, adding masquerades, satirical floats and competitions. Today the event attracts over a million visitors to Nice every year. Every year, a special theme is chosen, and traditional artists create 18 floats and other figurines in traditional papier-mâché for the colorful parade. The parades take place day and night, while on the Promenade des Anglais, people can admire “flower battles.”
- Festival de Carcassonne takes place in the fortified medieval city of Carcassonne. During the month of July, the city offers a wide variety of open-air performances in different locations around the Carcassonne. You’ll find contemporary and classical music, opera, theatre and dance, typically with a world-class line-up of stars. Drawing around a quarter of a million spectators, this is one of the most important events on the French cultural calendar.
- Festival Interceltique de Lorient is one of the biggest international Celtic gatherings in the world happening every year in Brittany. This Festival is a remarkable celebration of all things Celtic, attracting many visitors from the UK, Ireland, Galicia, and from the international Celtic diaspora. Over 10 days, thousands of artists, musicians, dancers, film-makers and academics gather in order to honour the ancient culture that binds them.
- Fêtes de Bayonne is a feria consisting of a series of festivals in the Northern Basque Country in the town of Bayonne. The festival lasts 5 days and always starts the Wednesday before the first Sunday of August. It is the largest festival in France. In the 80s, participants started to dress in white with a red scarf and a red belt after the colours of the city of Pamplona. Some rare purists prefer to wear blue and white, colours of the city of Bayonne. The festivals include musical and street performances, traditional dances, parades, and fireworks. The first “Fêtes de Bayonne” called “The big summer festival” took place on July 13, 1932.
- Fête des Lumieres – last but not least and for me the most important festival happening every year, early December in my beloved Lyon. Festival of Lights which I am taking part every year and which I have already described here is very popular and well known French festival which attracts many international and national visitors every day. This festival has been created in honour of St Mary who rescued the city and Lyonnais wanted to say thank you to St Mary lighting the whole city. This is the main idea to put little candles outside windows to respect St Mary. Nowadays, the festival evolved and transformed the city into a place full of spectacular art installations, light performances and shows designed by some of the world’s most talented lighting designers and videographers.
I hope you found your preferences in terms of the French festivals and you are convinced to take part in any of the French Traditional and Cultural Festival I listed above? Did I miss any other important French Traditional or Cultural French Festival? Could you please add if you know any other festival worth taking part in? Thank you so much!