New Year's Day January 1
Good Friday - Christian April 20
Easter - Christian April 21
May Day / Labor Day May 1
1945 WWII Victory Day May 8
Ascension Thursday - Christian May 29
Pentecost Sunday (Whit Sunday) - Christian June 8
Pentecost Monday (Whit Monday) - Christian June 9
Bastille Day July 14
Assumption Day - Christian August 15
All Saints' Day November 1
Remembrance Day / 1918 Armistice Day November 11
Christmas - Christian December 25






There is always a festival or event taking place in France, so there is always something to see or celebrate. Most French cities also have at least one major annual music, dance or art festival in addition to the national or regional celebrations.

Here are some of the more popular events:

Mardi Gras in Nice and Feria du Carnival in Nîmes, the week of February prior to Lent.

Location: Nice, Nîmes


Cannes International Film Festival,  takes place during the 2nd week of May.  It is the biggest and most famous film festival in the world. In 1939, the enterprising French drew up plans for the first Cannes Film Festival. That year only one movie - The Hunchback of Notre Dame - was actually screened. Some years, the festival grew into world's leading festival, and has maintained that position ever since. 

The festival is known for its proud history of upholding artistic standards. Major viewing takes place at the  famous Palais des Festivals, while other screenings take place all over the city. Though most events are strictly by invitation only, there are some film screenings opened to the public. It also has a fiercely competitive short film competition and the Un Certain Regard competition features that includes high-quality screenings deemed not suitable for the main competition, yet certainly worthy of recognition

Location: Cannes


Festival International de Danse, occurs in late June.  The event occurs in venues throughout the city just after the summer equinox. It is one of Europe's premier dance events. Each year, the organizers carefully choose a theme for the festival. Past themes have included modern dance and cinema.

Location: Montpellier

Bastille Day, takes place around the 3rd week in July.  There is fireworks across the country on the day, which the Tour de France ends in Paris. It is France's most important national holiday, commemorating the storming of the former high-security prison and the uprising that marked the beginning of the French Revolution. There's a huge military parade on the Champs-Elysées in Paris, and further celebrations take place all over the city.

The evening before is spent dancing in the Bastille Square and at numerous balls around the city. Many parties are held by the fire service in their stations, at which the fire fighters themselves are usually the star attraction. There is also a big outdoor Gay Ball if you fancy something more boisterous. 

On Bastille Day, you can try the Incredible Picnic, one of the largest in the world, taking place in some 20 of France's départments. There is a military parade on the Champs-Elysées, led by the President and accompanied overhead by jets in formation, marches from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde. Bringing up the rear and receiving the loudest applause are the fire brigade.

The partying continues all day and later thousands of people emerge upon Champ-de-Mars to watch the fireworks at the Trocadéro. Many local bars and clubs stage their own celebrations. Outside of Paris, every single village in France has their own dance, with champagne, fireworks, street fun and lots more.

Location: Paris, Avignon, Carcassonne 

International Fireworks Festival in July-August. It is a tremendously spectacular Fire work special held on a beautiful summer evening.

Location: Monaco

Nimes Harvesting Feria, and the Corridas(Bullrunning) in Nîmes take place on the 3rd Thursday of September. They are renowned throughout the country. Showcasing its deep Iberian influence, the city holds numerous bullfights and bullruns. This feria is one of the three annual ferias of Nimes and, it is in the name of the grape harvest. So there's plenty of drink, along with delicious tapas. Nîmes is a fantastic city, but is even better when its Spanish heritage is being celebrated. Besides, the features of the arena, one can find a variety of activities throughout the city. 

Location: Nîmes

Printemps des Comédiens(Montpellier's Theatre Festival), the enduringly popular annual theatre festival (June-July) is set inside the picturesque Château d'O. The festival seeks to pick out the very best in theatre for a month-long extravaganza. 

Location: Montpellier

Radio France and Montpellier Festival(Festival de Radio France et Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon)in July.   It is a huge annual event organised by the city and Radio France, Le Festival de Radio France et Montpellier. For two weeks, there are a wide variety of music and performance in numerous venues across the city. Over 100 events are organised, from plays and operas to symphonies and jazz. Venues include L'Opéra Berlioz, L'Opéra Comédie, La Cour des Ursulines, L'Espace Radio France and the Odysseum.

Location: Montpellier

Arles-sur-Tech Medieval Festival on 18-20 July,  focuses on Arles' Romanesque and Carolingian architecture, bringing to town, the sights, sounds and smells of the medieval era, along with knights, troubadours and artisans. The locals participate in this annual event, wearing different kinds of medieval costumes. The events range from pageantry displays to musical shows and comedy acts. On Saturday night a Medieval Banquet is held in the center of town, and other entertainment includes concerts in both of the village's churches.

Location: Arles-sur-Tech

 Collioure Bull running, Béziers Bullfighting Festival in August.  The South-West of France features many Spanish and Moorish influences in its architecture, folklore, history and culture, and one of the more exciting Spanish imports is that of bullrunning, or "corrida de los toros" and the annual bullfighting festival. Every year, in various French villages like Collioure, bulls are released at one end and chased down to the other, with the brave (or foolhardy) in the vanguard. In the beautiful cathedral town of Beziers, bulls are challenged by matadors from both France and Spain during five days of evening bullfights.

Location: Collioure, Beziers

May Day, on the 1st of May, everything except the Eiffel Tower closes down for Labor day - La Fête du Travail.  The main Unions parade through the working class part of Eastern Paris. This colorful march can best be seen from the Bastille, an enduring symbol of royal repression. At the same time, try some of the designer bars and restaurants that have sprung up since the early 1980s, making the Bastille area one of the liveliest parts of the city.

Location: Paris

Celebrate France - Happy New Year.  About December 29th to January 1st,  thousands of performers from around the world participate in a massive and varied four-day extravaganza. New Year's Eve is spent in Chantilly with Grande Parade de Chantilly, a spectacular street parade and open-air concert. On New Year's Day the parade moves to Disneyland Paris. The spectacular parade consists of marching bands, dance and cheerleading troupes, floats, balloons and variety acts. 

Location: Paris

Fête de la Musique, held on the longest day of the year(21st of June), was born in 1982 through the work and desire of then Director of Music and Dance, Maurice Fleuret, to bring people and their music out on to the streets. 

Musicians from across the globe perform free concerts in venues across Paris. Rock concerts are usually held at the Place de la Republique, while classical orchestras can be heard in the courtyard of the Palais Royal and indie bands play at place Denfert-Rochereau. On this day, you will find the vibrant sounds of salsa bands parading the streets. String quartets and steel bands play on street corners and accordionists wander among the crowds giving the city a real carnival atmosphere. In local bars and cafes, there are a variety of alternative gigs staged.

The musicians are a mix of professionals and amateurs and the festival policy is to give an equal place to amateur musicians to be heard alongside that of professional music.. 

The event has become a social phenomenon and its success has been exported to other places such as, San Francisco, New York, Manila, Brazil and Colombia.

Location: Paris




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