Return from the Alpine Pastures Festival, Annecy © French Moments

Last Updated: 2 February 2022


France has an abundance of festivals celebrating all sorts of things, from religion to food and art. We have compiled a few not-to-be-missed events in France.


Nice Carnival

(Carnaval de Nice)


Nice Carnival © J.Kelagopian / OTC Nice
Nice Carnival © J.Kelagopian / OTC Nice

The Nice Carnival is one of the largest events organised on the French Riviera, attracting over 1 million visitors. It is one of the most famous carnivals in the world alongside the Rio de Janeiro and Venice Carnivals. The colourful event takes place during a two-week period in February. This time of the year offers a great opportunity to discover Nice and the French Riviera which enjoy a mild weather compared to the rest of France. Find out more about Nice Carnival.


Menton Lemon Festival

(Fête du Citron)

February – March

The Golden Fruit Parade in Menton © Office de Tourisme de Menton
Menton’s Golden Fruit Parade © Office de Tourisme de Menton

The most Italianate and the warmest town on the French Riviera has become famous for its colourful Lemon Festival. A major event on the French Riviera, the celebration attracts no less than 230,000 visitors in Menton each February who marvel at the impressive sculptures and parades. Find out more about Menton.


Berck-sur-Mer International Kite Festival

(Rencontres Internationales de Cerfs-Volants de Berck)


Berck-sur-Mer Rencontres internationales de cerfs-volants © Bateloupreaut - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Berck-sur-Mer Rencontres internationales de cerfs-volants © Bateloupreaut – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The International Kite Festival organised in Berck-sur-Mer in the North of France attracts some 600,000 spectators. The fine sands of Berck-sur-Mer in the Pas de Calais département are the backdrop for a unique aerial ballet that was first held a quarter of a century ago.


Pentecost Feria, Nîmes

(Feria de Nîmes)


Feria de Nîmes © Fusio11 - licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Feria de Nîmes © Fusio11 – licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons

At Whitsun, the city of Nîmes welcomes one of the largest festive events in France. The Pentecost Feria sets a joyful atmosphere into town with music played by bands in the streets and the sounds emerging from the Roman arena. The Feria lasts six days at Whitsun.


Cannes Film Festival

(Festival de Cannes)


Baie de Cannes © fr.zil - licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Baie de Cannes © fr.zil – licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Arguably the most prestigious film festival in the world, the Film Festival was founded in 1946 in the city of Cannes on the French Riviera. Famous film directors are usually designated as Presidents of the Jury. The film festival has become a strategic showcase for French and European films. The highest prize awarded at the festival is the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm).

World Music Day

(Fête de la Musique)

End of June 2016

Fête de la Musique Paris 4 © French Moments
Fête de la Musique Paris © French Moments

The Fête de la Musique (or World Music Day) is a popular and free music festival taking place each year in France on the day of summer solstice, the shortest night of the year. The slogan of the festival “Faites de la musique” (Make music) is a play on the French words for “Fête de la Musique”. Throughout the country and even abroad, jazz, soul, funk, rock, electro, reggae, classical music and many other musical styles are celebrated with vigorous enthusiasm. Find out more about World Music Day in France.


Bastille Day Parade, Paris

(Défilé du 14 Juillet)

14 July

2016 Bastille Day Parade
Bastille Day Patrouille de France Paris © XtoF – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Among the festivities which are held the morning of 14 July, the largest is the military parade on the Champs-Elysées in Paris which dates back to 1880. Thousands of soldiers, horses, vehicles and 100 aircrafts parade down the Champs-Elysées, from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde, in front of the President of the Republic, the French government, foreign Paris-based ambassadors and other officials.

Find out more about Bastille Day in France.


Festival of Avignon

(Festival d’Avignon)


The Popes' Palace in Avignon © French Moments
The Popes’ Palace in Avignon © French Moments

The annual arts festival is mainly held in the inner courtyard of the Popes’ Palace in Avignon. It was founded in 1947 by Jean Vilar.


Saint-Nicolas Celebrations, Nancy

(la Saint-Nicolas)


Saint-Nicolas celebrations in Nancy © French Moments
Discover the Saint-Nicolas celebrations in Nancy © French Moments

On the 6th December, Saint Nicolas’ Day is mainly celebrated in north-eastern France, in the regions of Alsace and Lorraine. Each year, the Saint-Nicolas celebrations in Nancy welcome over 100,000 people who are entertained with parades, street plays, a great light show and fireworks on Place Stanislas. Find out more about Nancy.


Festival of Lights, Lyon

(Fête des Lumières)


The Festival of Lights in Lyon (“Fêtes des Lumières” in French) is the most awaited public event in the Rhône-Alpes region and draws several million people onto the illuminated streets of the city. For locals and tourists alike, this celebration of light unveils the architectural treasures of the city in an unexpected way, through the illuminating of monuments, streets, hills and river banks. Find out more about Lyon.


And a special mention to:

Alsace Wine Fair, Colmar

(Foire aux Vins d’Alsace)


Colmar rue des marchands French Moments
Rue des Marchands, Colmar © French Moments

The popular event celebrates the gastronomic riches of Alsace and most particularly its wine. Alongside the general economic Fair is organised a series of concerts with well-known French and international artists. Find out more about Colmar.

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Gems of Paris by French Moments
About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of Discovery Courses and books about France.

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