Top 14 Festivals In France

festivals in france
Sin Yee
Sin Yee 
| 6 min read

France has a very rich history and cultural heritage. The arts and festival scene in this country is crazy. If you have to describe a festival in the French country, it would be a description of an event full of pomp and splendour. Whether you are an art, music, culture, or dance lover, there is bound to be a festival all about you. If you are visiting France, there is nothing better than to indulge in the local culture. Have lots of fun while celebrating the festivals that are unique and found only in the country. If you are not sure where to start, this is the right article for you. Find out the top resorts and budget hotels for your accommodation needs. When planning your trip, scroll down to find a well-curated list of the top festivals in France.

1. Festival of Lights (Lyon)

Fête des Lumières - Lyon (2008)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Florian Pépellin used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Festival of Lights in Lyon, known as “Fête des Lumières” in French, is a traditional festival and has a captivating history that has transformed it into a world-renowned celebration. Originating in the 17th century, this annual event began as a religious tradition honoring the Virgin Mary. Over the centuries, it evolved into a spectacular illumination extravaganza, with the city’s residents placing candles in their windows to celebrate Mary’s protection during a plague.

Today, the Festival of Lights has grown into a four-day spectacle of light art, where talented artists and designers from around the world create breathtaking light installations that transform the city’s landmarks and public spaces. With millions of visitors from all corners of the globe, this enchanting festival has become an iconic event that brings people together in the spirit of wonder and unity.

Festival of Lights (Lyon)

Address: Lyon, France

Website: Festival of Lights Lyon

Takes place: Around December 8

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2. Chorégies d'Orange

Orange roman theatre
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user ChrisO used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Chorégies d'Orange, one of the most famous festivals in France, has a captivating history that makes it a must-see cultural event. Its origins can be traced back to Roman times when the ancient Theatre of Orange was constructed around the 1st century AD.

This majestic Roman theater became the stage for various performances, and it wasn’t until the 19th century that Chorégies d'Orange, as we know it today, was officially established. The festival has since evolved into a celebration of opera and classical music, with world-class artists gracing the historic stage against the stunning backdrop of the ancient theater.

The festival is a unique cultural experience that combines the grandeur of history with the magic of music. Its setting alone, within the beautifully preserved Roman theater, is reason enough to witness it. The acoustics of the theater are exceptional, creating a truly immersive musical experience for the audience.

Chorégies d'Orange

Address: Orange, France

Website: Chorégies d'Orange

Takes place: Around summer, from June to July

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3. Lemon Festival (Fête du Citron)

Fête du Citron® Menton
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Nicolas sartore used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Menton, France is home to Fête du Citron, or Lemon Festival in English. This carnival event pays tribute to the production of specialty lemons, as well as other citrus fruits, in the city. There are floats and sculptures featured during the festival, and all are made from lemons and oranges. This celebration dates back to the late 1920s when Menton was the main producer of lemons in all of Europe. The event started as a private one, where citrus fruits and flowers were displayed at the Riviera Hotel; the municipality followed this idea and came up with what Fête du Citron is known as now.

Fête du Citron

Address: Menton, France

Website: Fête du Citron

Takes place: February

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4. Cannes Film Festival

Stellan Skarsgard presenting Last Words at Cinema Ritrovato Festival 2020
Source: Photo by Flickr user Pietro Luca Cassa... used under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you’re a fan of the big screen, chances are you may already have heard of this prestigious film festival in France. Cannes Film Festival was officially founded in 1946 and honors new global films and documentaries from all genres. Some of the awards are Grand Prix, which is the second-most prestigious honor given by the body, and Palme d’Or. Palme d’Or, or Golden Palm, is the highest award that a film can receive at the festival. Some of its recipients that you may know about are Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver in 1976, Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now in 1979, and Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction in 1994. As of this writing, Palme d'Or’s most recent recipient is the 2019 black comedy thriller film Parasite, directed by Bong Joon-ho.

Cannes Film Festival

Address: Cannes, France

Website: Cannes Film Festival

Takes place: May

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5. Festival of Avignon

Avignon - spectacle palais
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Marianne Casamance used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Festival of Avignon, also known as Festival d'Avignon, is an annual contemporary art festival held in the city of Avignon—right in the magnificent Palais des Papes as well as some other parts of the city. This cultural event in France can be traced back to the 1940s, and it has more than 50 years of history. If you are a theatre lover, this is the festival for you! Every year in July, there will be lots of committee-approved theatre performances outdoors. You are free to view them and share your experiences with other like-minded people. There are two parts to the festival—the “in” and the “off” part. The “in” part usually features works that are more mainstream and well-known, while the “off” part showcases the niches and lesser-known performances.

Festival of Avignon

Address: Place du Palais, 84000 Avignon

Website: Festival of Avignon

Takes place: July

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6. Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras in Montreal Boef Gras
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Christopher Polic... used under CC BY 2.0

Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday,” is when Christians feast on good, delicious food before Lent—when they will need to fast for approximately 40 days in the days leading up to Easter. This is one of the most celebrated festivals in France, with 7 out of 10 people celebrating it like a ritual. Activities are held in various parts of France, along with carnival parties featuring lots of food. Sweets, confectioneries, pastries, and desserts with eggs as one of the main ingredients are very popular—it is said that the locals want to use up all the leftover eggs before Lent. You can just imagine the insane amounts of mouthwatering cakes, crepes, and waffles you can devour at this event!

Mardi Gras

Takes place: March

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7. International Kite Festival

Châtelaillon-Plage Cerf-Volants 2001
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Salix used under CC BY-SA 3.0

This festival is celebrated in France every year in April on the coast of Côte d’Opale, in Berck-sur-Mer, a commune in the northern part of the European country. Like what its name suggests, this celebration attracts kite lovers from all over the world, flooding the beach with beautiful kites. Aside from seeing lots of huge and magnificent kites, there are also various activities that you can join. Parents can participate in kitemaking workshops along with their kids and learn how to make a kite from scratch. For kids who have not flown any kite before, they can indulge in their first kite-flying experience. Indeed, this is a great festival for the whole family.

International Kite Festival

Address: Côte d’Opale

Website: International Kite Festival

Takes place: April to May

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8. Nice Carnival

2018 Corso Illumine - Carnaval de Nice 1
Source: Photo by user Lambert Rellosa used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Nice Carnival, held annually for about two weeks in February right by the French Riviera, is one of the world’s most widely acclaimed festival, attracting over one million visitors each year. This is definitely a festival that makes Nice even nicer. Nice Carnival has a long history, with its roots dating all the way back to 1924. There is a different theme for the festival every year. At the parades, you can expect floats with performers who are dressed up in colourful costumes, singing and dancing along to the carnival music. Sounds magical, right? You have to see it with your own eyes because it is truly a magnificent sight.

Nice Carnival

Address: French Riviera, Nice

Website: Nice Carnival

Takes place: February

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9. Fête de la Musique

Sens 89 : Fête de la Musique
Source: Photo by user GK Sens-Yonne used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Fête de la Musique, also known as Music Day, is an annual festival that takes place in France and is celebrated the most in Paris. Founded by Jack Lang in 1982, this music festival in France has become so popular that it is now celebrated in more than 120 countries around the world, including the USA, Australia, UK, and Japan. The sole purpose of this festival is to promote music from professional and niche artists, encouraging them to perform their compositions on the streets. A lot of free concerts are also organised for festival attendees in the name of celebrating music diversity all around the world. If you are in the area, just remember to immerse yourself in some lovely music and enjoy the happy and joyful atmosphere.

Fête de la Musique

Address: Paris, France

Website: Fête de la Musique

Takes place: June

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10. Paris Summer Festival

Festival Fnac Live - Paris Hôtel de Ville (5)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user ErasmusOfParis used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Paris Summer Festival, held every year during the months of July and August, was founded by Patrice Martinet in 1990 to promote the performing arts culture in France. Because of that, you’ll be expecting lots of mostly outdoors and a few indoors dance, music, and theatre performances that are either free or very moderately priced. If it is your first time in Paris, attending this festival is also a great opportunity for you to explore the city since most of the performance venues are located right by famous attractions and monuments.

Paris Summer Festival

Address: Paris

Website: Paris Summer Festival

Takes place: July to August

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11. Les Vieilles Charrues

Festival des Vieilles Charrues 2017 - drapeau
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kergourlay used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Les Vieilles Charrues, famed as one of the largest multi-genre music festivals in the city of Carhaix, is held annually in July. It is a must-go for electronic dance music (EDM) lovers. After all, it is a four-day event filled with live music from the best performers in the industry. In recent years, the festival lineup had included world-famous DJs such as Martin Garrix, Kygo, David Guetta, and many more. You are definitely going to party the day and night away with lots of awesome music.

Les Vieilles Charrues

Address: Carhaix, Brittany

Website: Les Vieilles Charrues

Takes place: Usually held in July

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12. Hellfest Open Air

Solidarité !
Source: Photo by user mzagerp used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Hellfest Open Air is a music festival that places a heavy focus on metal and punk. Held annually in Clisson, a commune in Loire-Atlantique, Hellfest is a three-day programme that features the best musicians in the industry. Past lineups included world-famous groups like Iron Maiden and Deep Purple. This famous event in France is one of the most widely acclaimed music festivals for those who are into rock ‘n’ roll. If you are traveling to France in June, you shouldn’t miss this event!

Hellfest Open Air

Address: Clisson, Loire-Atlantique

Website: Hellfest Open Air

Takes place: June

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13. Main Square Festival

Mika at the Main Square Festival in 2008
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user © ville d'Arras used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Main Square Festival is another big multi-genre music festival. Held in Arras, France, this festival is always sold out because of its impressive lineup of world-famous performers, including Coldplay, Celine Dion, and Ellie Goulding. Imagine three days of live music from your favourite singers. If you want to catch rare live performances, this is the festival for you!

Main Square Festival

Address: Arras

Website: Main Square Festival

Takes place: July

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14. Calvi on the Rocks

Night Calvi 2
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jan Dudík used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Calvi on the Rocks is yet another multi-genre music festival that happens annually in the month of July. Famous for its laid-back vibes, this event is held right on Calvi Beach. You are going to enjoy the beautiful sea views while dancing along to some of the coolest music from the best performers. This very unique atmosphere is what attracts the crowds to attend—it is just so chill and relaxing. So if you are looking for a music festival that gives you something a little different, attend Calvi on the Rocks and see for yourself what the hype is all about!

Calvi on the Rocks

Address: 26 Route de la Pinède, 20260 Calvi

Website: Calvi on the Rocks

Takes place: July

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France has a festival for everyone

France is really the ideal country for tourists and visitors who want to immerse themselves in the rich culture of the arts and French festivals and celebrations. From breathtaking UNESCO sites and iconic places to experience to unique tours that will educate you on the country’s history, there’s never a dull moment here.

The French love their celebrations, and you are welcome to join in the festivities, enjoy the cheery atmosphere, and gain yourself a whole new experience. So what are you waiting for? If you are planning a trip to France, check your dates and look out for a festival that appeals to you. Who knows, you might just get that unforgettable experience you’ve always wanted to have!

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Frequently asked questions about festivals in France

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Sin Yee is a small-business owner, freelance writer, and content creator. At Basic Theory, she specializes in crafting all-natural, synthetic-free skin and body care products. Beyond her business,...Read more

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