MAJOR EVENTS & FESTIVALS 2018

Here are some of the major festivals, events and shows happening in the South of France in 2018. For a more comprehensive listing of events large and small, see EVENTS CALENDAR.

FEBRUARY 

MENTON: 84th Annual Menton Lemon Festival, Feb 17 to March 4, 2018. For info, click here

NICE: Carnaval, February 17 to March 3, 2018. For all the info, click here.

MARCH

NICE: Paris to Nice Cycling Race, March, 2018. The 75th “Race in the Sun” between Paris and Nice covers 1,300 km 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/.

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 March 30 to April 2 and August 11 to 15, 2018. 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 here

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 March 30 to April 2, 2018 and August 15, 2018. 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), March 30 to April 2, 2018. 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: 75th Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix (May 24-27, 2018). For all the info, click here.

NIMES: Pentecost Feria, May 16-21, 2018. 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: 71th Annual Cannes Film Festival, May 8-19, 2018. For the website in English, click here.


ST. REMY: The 35th Annual Transhumance! Monday May 21, 2018. Yep, that's the one with all the sheep. Info is on the site of the St. Remy Tourist Office here.

JUNE

ALL OVER FRANCE: Fete de la Musique (nationwide), June 21, 2018. 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 and check the website here

AIX: The Aix en Juin Festival brings a marvelous schedule of performances to indoor and outdoor venues around the city. Music, dance and more. For info click here.  

AIX: Salon Vivre Cote Sud, June 8 to 11, 2018. Find beautiful things for your home and garden in this popular annual fair. Click here for info.

ANTIBES: Voiles d'Antibes, May 30-June 3, 2018. 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.
MOUGINS: The 13th Annual International Festival of Gastronomy, Les Etoiles de Mougins, will be June 2-3, 2018. This is a great weekend for anyone who loves great food and wine in a fabulous setting. Lesetoilesdemougins.com.

NIMES: Pentecost Feria, 
May 16-21, 2018. 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. 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 20 to August 4, 2018. choregies.fr.

PONT DU GARD: On June 1, 7, 8 and 9, the Pont du Gard once again presents the Feeries du Pont, a massive sound, light and fireworks show created by the folks at Groupe F. This year's new creation is called Feux Sacres. For all the info, click here.

SALON DE PROVENCE: Rendezvous aux Jardins, June 1 to 3, 2018. Click here for info.

VAISON LA ROMAINE: The wildly popular modern dance festival called Vaison Danses will be June 23 to July 27, 2018. Tickets are at the box office, by phone, online or FNAC. For all the info, click here or vaison-danses.com.

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 2018 Tour de France will be July 7 to 29. 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 4 to 24, 2018. It will be the 70th annual and details will be added as they're announced. For info, click here

ARLES: The Rencontres d'Arles, the large international photo expo, is July 2 to Sept 23, 2018. 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 all the info in English, click here

ARLES: 23nd Annual "La Sud a Arles" World Music Festival, July 9 to 15, 2018. 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 24, 2018. 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.

AVIGNON: The ''Off Broadway'' or "alternative" version of the Avignon Festival is called the Avignon Off Festival. Dates are July 6 to 29, 2018; in previous years there were as many as 1500 different performances. The festival starts with a parade of costumed performers, many of them with their instruments, 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 soon. Once the online program is available, shows appropriate for non-French speakers will be highlighted. avignonleoff.com

AVIGNON: 25th Annual Avignon Jazz Festival, Aug 1-5, 2018. Featuring known artists and up and comers, this has become the number one jazz competition in Europe. For info: tremplinjazzavignon.fr

GIGONDAS: The seventh annual Gigondas sur Table happens Monday July 16, 2018. In an idyllic setting on the town square, this sell-out event shines the spotlight on the best local wines and regional cuisine. Five guest chefs will be cooking, their dishes paired with Gigondas wines. Some 40 wine growers and négociants will be pouring their finest. Time: 8pm – 11pm. Cost: 50 euros (adults), 15 euros (children under 12). Booking is essential: promotion@gigondas-vin.com or call +33 (0)4 90 37 79 60. Booking opens on June 1st, 2018. For more details, click here.


JUAN LES PINS: The 58th Annual Jazz a Juan Festival will be July 12 to 22, 2018. 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 2018. 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: JInternational Piano Festival, July 20 to August 18, 2018. 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 38th annual and the website also has info on performances held throughout the year, outside of festival dates. festival-piano.com.


LE THORONET: 28th Medieval Music Festival at the Abbaye du Thoronet, July 21-28, 2018. Tickets from 10 to 22€. musique-medievale.fr, 04 94 60 10 94.

LOURMARIN, July to Sept, 2018: 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, 2018. For info, click here or sportingsummerfestival.com.

NIMES: The Festival of Nimes--with concerts in the stunning Roman Arena—is June 17 to July 22, 2018. 
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 20 to Aug 4, 2018. For all the info: choregies.fr.

VAISON LA ROMAINE: The wildly popular modern dance festival called Vaison Danses will be June 23 to July 27, 2018. 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 2 to Sept 23th, 2018. 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 2 to 8. For info in English, click here

AVIGNON: The Luminessences sound and light show has become a popular annual summer and early fall evening event. 2018 dates are August 11 to Sept 29. Learn more here.

AVIGNON: 23rd Annual Avignon Jazz Festival, Aug 1 to 5, 2018. Known artists, up and comers and what many feel is the #1 jazz competition in Europe. 
tremplinjazzavignon.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. The Corso de Lavande will be Aug 3 to 7, 2018 (info is here). The 97th annual Lavender Fair (Foire de la Lavande) is August 22 to 26, 2018 (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 March 30-April 2 and August 11 to 15, 2018. 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 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 October, 2018: 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, 2018. 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 20 to  August 4, 2018. choregies.fr.

VAISON LA ROMAINE: The 25th Annual Choralies de Vaison presents nine days of singing, concerts, workshops and more. The next Choralies are in 2019: Aug 1 to 9. For info, choralies.org+33 (0)4 72 19 83 40.

SEPTEMBER

ALL OVER FRANCE: The next French Heritage Days (Journees du Patrimoine) will be September 15 and 16, 2018. 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 and the website here for this year's details.

ALL OVER FRANCE: Fifth Annual Tous a Restaurant promotion, September, 2018. 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 2 to Sept 23th, 2018. 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 2 to 8. For info in English, click here


AVIGNON: The Luminessences sound and light show has become a popular annual summer and early fall evening event. 2018 dates are August 11 to Sept 29. Learn more here.

CASSIS: Vendages Etoilees Festival, September, 2018. 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.

LOURMARIN, mid July to October , 2018: 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

ST. REMY: 10th Annual Jazz a Saint Remy is Feb 17, 2018 at the Alpilium. Reserve online or at the Tourist Office. jazzasaintremy.fr
ST. TROPEZ: Sept 29 to Oct 8, 2018 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. Lesvoilesdesaint-tropez.fr

OCTOBER

AVIGNON: The Luminessences sound and light show is Aug 9 to Sept 29, 2018. Learn more here.

LOURMARIN, July to October, 2018: 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

ST. TROPEZ: Sept 29 to Oct 8, 2018 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. 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. November 15 to 19, 2018. For info, click here

CANNES: Annual Cannes Dance Festival, November 2018. festivaldedanse-cannes.com.

MONTE CARLO: Monte Carlo Jazz Festival, November 2018. For info, click here

DECEMBER

AIX: The city stages a large, very atmospheric Christmas market every year on the Cours Mirabeau. Exact dates and details to come on the website of the Aix Tourist Office.


LYON: The city will be beautifully ablaze with sound and light installations during the annual Fete de Lumieres. It's not Provence of course but if you haven't seen it, it's a must. Dates to come for December, 2018. All the info is here.

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