MAJOR EVENTS & FESTIVALS 2017

Here are some of the major festivals happening in the South of France in 2017. For a more comprehensive listing of events large and small, see EVENTS CALENDAR.

FEBRUARY 

MENTON: 83rd Annual Menton Lemon Festival, Feb 11 to March 1, 2017. For info, click here

NICE: Carnaval, February 11 to 26, 2017. For all the info, click here.

MARCH

NICE: Paris to Nice Cycling Race, March, 2017. The 74th “Race in the Sun” between Paris and Nice covers 1,300km in 8 legs. Col de Vence could prove daunting for the leaders, like the ascents of La Turbie and Col d'Èze which are also on the itinerary of the now essential last leg of this Course au Soleil (Race in the Sun). This event traditionally marked the start of the international season. letour.fr/paris-nice/.

APRIL
ISLE SUR LA SORGUE: The 51-year-old, twice-a-year antiques fair in pretty Isle sur la Sorgue was formerly known as the Foire Internationale Arts et Antiquités. This year it's under new management and has been renamed "l’Isle sur la Sorgue Antiques Art & You"...but I trust everyone will just keep calling it “The Big Antiques Fair” as they always have! And very big it is indeed...one of the biggest in Europe, with 100,000 visitors expected. The fair always happens in Spring (usually Easter weekend) and again in late summer. This year’s dates are April 13 to 17 and August 11 to 15, 2017. You'll find roughly 550 vendors selling all over town, including the 300 or stall-holders and shops that normally call Isle sur la Sorgue home. Look for antiques and brocante, ancient books, design decoration, vintage pieces, artistic works and much more. I’m told you’ll also find personal shoppers and restoration specialists on hand.  The show is now produced by AntiquesArt & You and all the info is on their site in English hereBetter yet, read my story about it here.

ARLES: Easter Festival (Feria du Pacques), April 14-17, 2017. Bullfights and bull games in the Arena and lots of other activities around town. For info: 08 91 70 03 70, arenes-arles.com or click here.

HYERES: The Sailing World Cup Hyères (April/May 2017) is the third event in sailing’s premier international Olympic-classes regatta series. Competing at the 2016 edition of the event will be 574 sailors from 47 nations, along with the Rio 2016 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team representatives in 7 of 10 classes. Hyères will also serve as the final event in US Sailing’s Rio 2016 Paralympic Athlete Selection Series in the 2.4mR and Sonar classes. For info: sailing.org
MAY

MONACO: 74th Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix (May 25-28, 2017). For all the info, click here.

NIMES: Pentecost Feria, May 31 to June 5, 2017. Held for the first time in 1952, the five-day festival runs from Thursday to Whit Monday. A huge carnival parade starts festivities, winding its way through the city streets and culminating in a large firework display in the arenas, launching the mass celebrations of the million people who come. The world’s best toreros demonstrate their skills in corridas in the ancient Roman amphitheatre, before the streets fill with revellers enjoying the open-air concerts and dance parties that go on throughout the night. www.ot-nimes.fr.

CANNES: 69th Annual Cannes Film Festival, May 17-28, 2017. For the website in English, click here.

JUNE

ALL OVER FRANCE: Fete de la Musique (nationwide), June 21, 2017. Day and night, free music will take over streets, cafes, music venues, historic sites, gardens, parks and churches all over France. For more info, see what I wrote here. 


AIX: Salon Vivre Cote Sud, June 2-5, 2017. Find beautiful things for your home and garden in this popular annual fair. Info: vivrecotesud.fr

ANTIBES: Voiles d'Antibes, May 31-June 4, 2017. This race marks the opening of the Mediterranean circuit, the first stage of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge or Trophee Panerai. it's a stunning regatta drawing some of the world’s most-spectacular rare vintage and classic yachts, matching ancient cutters with professional crews against America’s Cup yachts.  And then there are the after parties, just like you'd expect in a town like Antibes, with many hosted on board the yachts themselves. voilesdantibes.com.

LE THORONET: 27th Medieval Music Festival at the Abbaye du Thoronet, June 23 and 24, 2017. Tickets from 10 to 22€. musique-medievale.fr, 04 94 60 10 94.

NIMES: Pentecost Feria, May 31 to June 5, 2017. Held for the first time in 1952, the five-day festival runs from Thursday to Whit Monday. A huge carnival parade starts festivities, winding its way through the city streets and culminating in a large firework display in the arenas, launching the mass celebrations of the million people who come. The world’s best toreros demonstrate their skills in corridas in the ancient Roman amphitheatre, before the streets fill with revellers enjoying the open-air concerts and dance parties that go on throughout the night. www.ot-nimes.fr

ORANGE: Les Chorégies d’Orange--the oldest festival in France--offers opera, lyrical and symphonic concerts in a stunning Roman amphitheater, a semi-circular space seating 9,000. Go early, get parked, eat nearby and bring cushions! The Choregies festival is held annually in July and August; this years dates are June 19 to August 5,  2017. For all the info: choregies.fr.

ST. REMY: The 35th Annual Transhumance! Monday June 5, 2017. Yep, that's the one with all the sheep. The details don't change that much from year to year...and the 2017 haven't been published yet. But see all the previous years info here and in my story here.

JULY

ALL OVER FRANCE: July 14, Bastille Day. Also called the Fete Nationale. This public holiday commemorates the day that Parisian commoners and peasants stormed the fortress and prison of Bastille, provoking events that would end the monarchy and usher in the age of liberty, fraternity and equality. In Paris, there's a traditional military parade along the Champs Elysees and a festival atmosphere throughout the day, finishing with the city night-sky turned bright by magnificent and noisy fireworks shows. In smaller cities and villages thoughout France, you'll find parades, street fairs, live music, fireworks, bals (dances) and much more. Check local listings for specifics.

ALL OVER FRANCE: The 2017 Tour de France will be July 1 to 27. For all the info, click here.

ALL OVER THE RIVIERA AND COTE D’AZUR: The Soirees Estivales brings 400-plus free perfomances to numerous villages and towns thoughout the summer and early fall. See the schedule here, searching by month, village or type of performance.

AIX: The next Festival d'Aix (Opera) will be July 3 to 22, 2017. It will be the 68th annual and details will be added as they're announced. For info, click here

ARLES: The dates for the Rencontres d'Arles, the large international photo expo, are July 3 to Sept 24th, 2017. Certain exhibits remain on view until the very end; others come down sooner. The main events (openings, conferences, special evening parties, talks and tours) almost all happen during opening week, July 3 to 9. For info in English, click here

ARLES: 22nd Annual La Sud a Arles World Music Festival, July 10 to 16, 2017. For info: suds-arles.com

AVIGNON: The Festival d'Avignon is a huge theater, music and dance festival that takes over the whole city. This year's dates are July 6 to 26, 2017. Tickets can be purchased by phone, on the website, or at the ticket office at the Cloitre Saint-Louis (on rue Portail Boquier). A day by day "Spectators Guide" (with info on readings, films, exhibits, live radio broadcasts and other events) will be available in early July at all venues. You can also get info on all Festival d’Avignon and Off Festival events and activities at the Avignon Tourist Office (41, cours Jean Jaurès). Meanwhile, the festival website is now available in English, making it super easy to get all the current performance and ticketing info: http://www.festival-avignon.com/en/ 

AVIGNON: The ''Off Broadway'' or "alternative" version of the Avignon Festival is called the Avignon Off Festival. Dates are July 7 to 30, 2017; I'm told that this year there will be 1500 different shows. The Off Festival kicks off with a parade of costumed performers, many of them with their instruments, on July 6...from roughly 5 to 6.30 pm. There could be as many as 3000 performers marching up the rue de la République and some will perform that evening "au chapeau" (for tips in the hat) around town. It's a fun, festive evening and the perfect way to kick off the Off! For info on Off Festival events and ticket purchasing, see the website or visit the Off Village at the École Thiers, #1, rue des Ecole. You can also buy event tickets at each performance venue. In July, the Avignon Tourist office (41, cours Jean Jaurès) will also have an Off Festival booth in the lobby, where you can get programs by festival discount cards. Note: While the Off Festival website is currently only in French, an English version should be live at the end of May. Once the online program is available, shows appropriate for non-French speakers will be highlighted. For all the info : avignonleoff.com

AVIGNON: 24th Annual Avignon Jazz Festival, July 30 to Aug 3, 2017. Featuring known artists and up and comers, this has become the number one jazz competition in Europe. For info: trempjazz.fr

JUAN LES PINS: The 57th Annual Jazz a Juan Festival, July 14 to 23, 2017. Coming this year are Earth, Wind & Fire, Buddy Guy, Gregory Porter, Diana Krall, Paolo Conte, the Eddy Mitchell Big Band and much, much more! Also don't miss the Jazz Off ("Fringe") Festival, with 200 some musicians in the streets and on the squares of Antibes and Juan-les-Pins, sharing jazz in all its forms. For info, click here or go to: antibesjuanlespins.com.

LACOSTE: July 2017. Lacoste's old stone quarries and chateau provide the unique backdrop and exceptional acoustics for this summer festival, presented by Pierre Cardin. The program includes music, theater and dance.  €10-120. festivaldelacoste.com, 04 90 75 93 12.

LA ROQUE D’ANTHERON: July 21 to August 17, 2017, International Piano Festival. Considered by many to be the most important piano festival in the world, with concerts in outdoor and indoor venues. This year will be the 36th annual. festival-piano.com. See site for other performances throughout the year.

LOURMARIN, July to Sept, 2017: Summer Music Festival. In the castle or on its terraces, enjoy concerts of classical music with award-winning and highly talented artists. A grand traditional Jazz evening is also programmed on the terraces of the Château de Lourmarin at the beginning of August. It is also the opportunity to visit the village classified "Most Beautiful Villages of France." chateau-de-lourmarin.com

MONTE CARLO: Monte Carlo Sporting Summer Festival of Live Music, July/August, 2017. For info, click here or sportingsummerfestival.com.

NIMES: The Festival of Nimes--with concerts in the stunning Roman Arena—is June 20-July 21, 2017. 
festivaldenimes.com.

ORANGE: Les Chorégies d’Orange--the oldest festival in France--offers opera, lyrical and symphonic concerts in a stunning Roman amphitheater, a semi-circular space seating 9,000. Go early, get parked, eat nearby and bring cushions! The Choregies festival is held annually in July and August; this years dates are June 19- August 5 2017. For all the info: choregies.fr.

VAISON LA ROMAINE: The next annual modern dance festival called Vaison Danses will be in July, 2017. Tickets are at the box office, by phone, online or FNAC. For all the info, click here or vaison-danses.com.

AUGUST

ARLES: The dates for the Rencontres d'Arles, the large international photo expo, are July 3 to Sept 24th, 2017. Certain exhibits remain on view until the very end; others come down sooner. The main events (openings, conferences, special evening parties, talks and tours) almost all happen during opening week, July 3 to 9. For info in English, click
 here

AVIGNON: The Luminessences sound and light show has become a popular annual summer and early fall evening event. Dates for 2017 are to be announced closer to the date. Learn more here.

AVIGNON: 23rd Annual Avignon Jazz Festival, July 30 to Aug 3, 2017. Featuring known artists and up and comers, this has become the number one jazz competition in Europe. For info: trempjazz.fr

DIGNES LES BAIN: Love lavender? Dignes les Bain has two major events. The Corso de Lavande and the biggie, the Lavender Festival, where you'll find producers, displays explaining the distilling process, lavender of all types for sale...and more more. Both events are in August, with exact dates to come. foire-lavande.com.

ISLE SUR LA SORGUE: The 51-year-old, twice-a-year antiques fair in pretty Isle sur la Sorgue was formerly known as the Foire Internationale Arts et Antiquités. This year it's under new management and has been renamed "l’Isle sur la Sorgue Antiques Art & You"...but I trust everyone will just keep calling it “The Big Antiques Fair” as they always have! And very big it is indeed...one of the biggest in Europe, with 100,000 visitors expected. The fair always happens in Spring (usually Easter weekend) and again in late summer. This year’s dates are April 13 to 17 and August 11 to 15, 2017. You'll find roughly 550 vendors selling all over town, including the 300 or stall-holders and shops that normally call Isle sur la Sorgue home. Look for antiques and brocante, ancient books, design decoration, vintage pieces, artistic works and much more. I’m told you’ll also find personal shoppers and restoration specialists on hand.  The show is now produced by AntiquesArt & You and all the info is on their site in English hereBetter yet, read my story about it here.

LA ROQUE D’ANTHERON: July 21 to August 17, 2017, International Piano Festival. Considered by many to be the most important piano festival in the world, with concerts in outdoor and indoor venues. This year will be the 36th annual. festival-piano.com. See site for other performances throughout the year.

LOURMARIN, July to Sept, 2017: Summer Music Festival. In the castle or on its terraces, enjoy concerts of classical music with award-winning and highly talented artists. A grand traditional Jazz evening is also programmed on the terraces of the Château de Lourmarin at the beginning of August. It is also the opportunity to visit the village classified "Most Beautiful Villages of France." chateau-de-lourmarin.com

MONTE CARLO: Monte Carlo Sporting Summer Festival of Live Music, July/August, 2017. For info, click here or sportingsummerfestival.com.

ORANGE: Les Chorégies d’Orange--the oldest festival in France--offers opera, lyrical and symphonic concerts in a stunning Roman amphitheater, a semi-circular space seating 9,000. Go early, get parked, eat nearby and bring cushions! The Choregies festival is held annually in July and August; this years dates are June 19- August 5,  2017. For all the info: choregies.fr.

VAISON LA ROMAINE: The 25th Annual Choralies de Vaison presents nine days of singing, concerts, workshops and more. 2017 dates to be announced. For info, click here (choralies.fr) or call 04 72 19 83 40.

SEPTEMBER

ALL OVER FRANCE: The next French Heritage Days (Journees du Patrimoine) will be in September, 2017. That's when you get free access to historic sites and museums and other wonderful places that are normally closed to the public throw open their doors. See my most recent story here for 2016 info.

ALL OVER FRANCE: Fifth Annual Tous a Restaurant promotion, September, 2017. Get two for one deals on special menus in hundreds of restaurants. Chefs prepare a special prix-fixe menu of an appetizer, main course, and dessert. The first guest chooses this menu, and the second guest receives the same menu for free (drinks may be included or not). Info: tousaurestaurant.com/en.

ARLES: The dates for the Rencontres d'Arles, the large international photo expo, are July 3 to Sept 24th, 2017. Certain exhibits remain on view until the very end; others come down sooner. The main events (openings, conferences, special evening parties, talks and tours) almost all happen during opening week, July 3 to 9. For info in English, click here

CASSIS: Vendages Etoilees Festival, September, 2017. Chefs and vineyards offer demos and tastings of the wines of Cassis, which has the oldest registered AOC (designation of origin) in France. Les-vendanges-etoilees.com.

MOUGINS: The 12th Annual International Festival of Gastronomy, Les Etoiles de Mougins, will be in September, 2016. This is a great weekend for anyone who loves good food and wine in a fabulous setting. Lesetoilesdemougins.com.

ST. TROPEZ: Sept 30 to Oct 8, 2017 are the dates for the 19th edition of Les Voiles de Saint Tropez, with a selection of the finest traditional and modern yachts in the world. More than 300 sailboats will gather in this exceptional setting to race in the same zone for a week. Witness the traditional yachts that are majestical “works of art” as well as new- generation boats using cutting-edge technology. This year, the event runs through Oct 8. Lesvoilesdesaint-tropez.fr

OCTOBER

AVIGNON: The Luminessences sound and light show has become a popular annual evening event. Dates for 2017 are Aug 10 to Oct 2. Learn more here.

NICE: European Master Games, October, 2016. This international competition boasts 27 different sports, and welcomes 10,000 athletes from around the world every 4 years. Registration is open for competitors over the age of 35 wishing to take part in this exceptional sports event, with no upper age limit. An opening ceremony and fringe events add to the festivities. For info, click here.

ST. TROPEZ: Sept 30 to Oct 8, 2017 are the dates for the 19th edition of Les Voiles de Saint Tropez, with a selection of the finest traditional and modern yachts in the world. More than 300 sailboats will gather in this exceptional setting to race in the same zone for a week. Witness the traditional yachts that are majestical “works of art” as well as new- generation boats using cutting-edge technology. This year, the event runs through Oct 8. Lesvoilesdesaint-tropez.fr

NOVEMBER

ARLES: Provence Prestige is an large and lovely indoor holiday market featuring all local products: food, wine, sweets, home decor, clothing, arts and crafts, books, Christmas specialties and more. The 23rd annual will be in November 24 - 28, 2016. For info, click here
CANNES: 22nd Annual Cannes Dance Festival, Nov 2017. For all the info: festivaldedanse-cannes.com.
MONTE CARLO: Monte Carlo Jazz Festival, Nov, 2017. For info, click here

DECEMBER

LYON: The city will be beautifully ablaze with sound and light installations during the annual Fete de Lumieres. If you haven't seen it, it's a must. Dates: Dec 8 to 11, 2016. All the info is here.

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