MAJOR EVENTS & FESTIVALS 2019

Here are some of the major festivals, events and shows happening in the South of France in 2019. For a more comprehensive listing of events large and small, see EVENTS CALENDAR. And please check back as new events are always being added.

FEBRUARY 

MENTON: 86th Annual Menton Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival), Feb 16 to March 3, 2019. Info here 

NICE: Carnaval! This year the theme is "King of Cinema." Feb 16 to March 2, 2019. Info here

MARCH

NICE: Paris to Nice Cycling Race, March 10 to 17, 2019. Also known as "Paris-Nice" or the "Race to the Sun," this event traditionally marks the start of the international bike race season. In 2018, Spaniard  Marc Soler outshone Briton Simon Yates in a nail-biting final stage on the hills surrounding Nice to win Paris-Nice "by the blink of an eye." The 24-year-old Movistar rider, 37 seconds behind Yates at the start in the morning rain, crossed the line with a four-second lead over the Briton, 110 km and a few hours later, after another extremely tight finale. The 2019 race will cover 1,300 km in eight stages. As in years past, the Col de Vence is expected to prove daunting, as are the ascents of La Turbie and Col d'Èze. Info here.
APRIL

L’ISLE-SUR-LA-SORGUE: The 52-year-old, twice-a-year antiques fair in pretty Isle-sur-la-Sorgue was formerly known as the Foire Internationale d’Arts et d’Antiquités. It's now called "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 at each of two shows. It happens in Spring (usually Easter weekend) and again in late summer. The 2019 dates are April 19 to 22 and August 15 to 18. 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, along with decorators and stylists. The April event is themed “Vintage” while the August event’s theme is still to be decided, but will be more universal as it's a more-popular show. The fair is produced by AntiquesArt & You and all the info is on their site here.

ARLES: Easter Festival (Feria du Pacques), April 19 to 22, 2019. 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) is the third event in sailing’s premier international Olympic-classes regatta series. Competing at the 2019 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. 
The Semaine Olympique Française de Voile takes place April 27 to May 4, 2019 featuring some of the world’s best sailors in the run-up to the next Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 and continuing Hyères’ over five decades’ long tradition of Olympic trials. For info: sailing.org

ALL OVER FRANCE : Les Journées Européennes des Métiers d’Art (April 1 to 7) throws open galleries, studios and workshops across Europe, with exhibitions, installations, open houses, performances and more, enabling you to discover all aspects of the  arts, meet artists and explore the creative process.

MAY

NÎMES : Les Grands Jeux Romains (Roman Games), May 3 to 5, 2019, bring together over 500 volunteer participants and actors to re-enact ancient historical events in Nîmes’ Roman amphitheater, with the Barbarian Kings as this year’s theme. The whole town enters into the fun too, with special events, menus, exhibitions and more – and as the actors remain in costume throughout the weekend, visitors rub shoulders with centurions, gladiators, nobles and peasants around the town. Nimes-tourisme.com

MONACO: 77th Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix (May 23-26, 2019). For all the info, click here.

CANNES: 73rd Annual Cannes Film Festival, May 14-25, 2019. For the website in English, click 
here.

JUNE

SAINT-REMY: The 36th Annual Transhumance! Monday June 10, 2019. Yep, that's the one with all the sheep. Info is on the site of the Saint-Remy Tourist Office here.

ALL OVER FRANCE: Fête de la Musique, June 21, 2019. 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 6th 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 Côté Sud, June 7 to 10, 2019. Find beautiful things for your home and garden in this popular annual fair. Click here for info.

ANTIBES: Voiles d'Antibes, June 5 to 9, 2019. This race marks the opening of the Mediterranean circuit, and is the first stage of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge or Trophée 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.

MARSEILLE: The finals of the Sailing World Cup happen June 2, 2019. Info 
here.

NÎMES: Pentecost Feria, June 6 to 10, 2019. 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 launching the mass celebrations of the million people who come. The world’s best toreros demonstrate their skills in corridas in the ancient Roman amphitheater, together with courses camarguaises (where the bulls live to see another day), before the streets fill with revellers enjoying the open-air concerts, dance parties and drinking in bodegas that go on throughout the night. 
nimes-tourisme.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 Chorégies festival is held annually from June through August; this year’s dates are June 19 to August 6, 2019. choregies.fr.

SALON DE PROVENCE: Rendezvous aux Jardins, June, 2019. Click here for info.

JULY

VAISON LA ROMAINE: The wildly popular modern dance festival called Vaison Danses will be July 10 to 27, 2019. Tickets are at the box office, by phone, online or FNAC. For all the info, click here or vaison-danses.com

ALL OVER FRANCE: July 14, Bastille Day. Also called the Fête 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 Elysées 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 throughout France, you'll find parades, street fairs, live music, fireworks, bals (dances) and much more. Check local listings for specifics.

ALL OVER FRANCE: The 2019 Tour de France will be July 6 to 28. For all the info, click here.

ALL OVER THE RIVIERA AND COTE D’AZUR: The Soirées Estivales brings 400-plus free performances to numerous villages and towns throughout 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, 2019. It will be the 71st annual festival. All details are here.

ARLES: The dates for the Rencontres d'Arles, the large international photo expo, are July 1 to Sept 22, 2019. 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 1 to 7. For info in English, click here

ARLES: 24th Annual "Les Suds à Arles" World Music Festival, July 8 to 14, 2019. A week filled with concerts, master classes, "meet the musician" events and more, in the heart of the historic city. 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 will be confirmed soon. 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 5 to 29, 2019; in previous years there were as many as 1500 different performances. The festival kicks off on July 5 with a parade of costumed performers, many of them with their instruments, starting at 8 pm. There could be as many as 3000 performers marching up the Rue de la République and performing "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

GIGONDAS: The eighth annual Gigondas sur Table happens Monday July 15, 2019. In an idyllic setting on the town square, this sell-out event shines the spotlight on the best local wines and regional cuisine. Four guest chefs, a maître fromager and a maître patissier will be preparing their dishes paired with Gigondas wines, while some 40-50 wine growers and négociants will be pouring their finest. Time: 8 pm – 11pm. Cost: 50€ (adults), 15€ (children under 12). Booking is essential: promotion@gigondas-vin.com or call +33 (0)4 90 37 79 60. Booking usually opens in June..
JUAN LES PINS: The 59th Annual Jazz à Juan Festival will be July 12 to 21, 2019. Also don't miss the Jazz Off ("Fringe") Festival, with some 200 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 or jazzajuan.com.

LACOSTE: July 2019. 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: International Piano Festival, July 20 to August 18, 2019. 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 39th annual and the website also has info on performances held throughout the year, outside of festival dates. festival-piano.com.

LE THORONET: 29th Medieval Music Festival at the Abbaye du Thoronet. Festival will be third week in July, 2019, with exact dates to be fixed in early April. Tickets from 10 to 22€. musique-medievale.fr, 04 94 60 10 94.

LOURMARIN, July to Oct, 2019: 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 as one of the  "Most Beautiful Villages of France.” Dates to be confirmed late Dec or early Jan.  chateau-de-lourmarin.com

MONTE CARLO: Monte Carlo Sporting Summer Festival of Live Music, July/August, 2019. For info, click here or sportingsummerfestival.com.

NÎMES: Kicking off with Elton John on his farewell tour, the Festival of Nîmes features concerts in the stunning Roman Arena, from June 23 to July 18, 2019. Note: these dates may change as new artists and concerts are added throughout the spring and early summer.
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 Chorégies festival is held annually June through August; this year’s dates are June 19 to Aug 6, 2019. For all the info: choregies.fr.

VAISON LA ROMAINE: The wildly popular modern dance festival called Vaison Danses will be July 10 to 27, 2019. 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 1 to Sept 22, 2019. 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 1 to 7. For info in English, click 
here

AVIGNON: The Vibrations sound and light show has become a popular annual summer and early fall evening event. 2019 dates are still TBA. Learn more here.

AVIGNON: The 24th Annual Avignon Jazz Festival,
Aug  2019, final dates TBA. Known artists, up and comers and what many feel is the #1 jazz competition in Europe. tremplinjazzavignon.fr 

DIGNES-LES-BAINS: Love lavender? Dignes-les-Bains has two major events. The Corso de Lavande with a procession, marching bands and 400 musicians, and the biggie, the Lavender Festival, where you'll find producers, displays explaining the distilling process, lavender of all types for sale...and much more. The Corso de Lavande will be Aug 2 to 6, 2019 (info is here). The 2019 Lavender Fair (Foire de la Lavande) is in August with dates TBA. (foire-lavande.com).

L’ISLE-SUR-LA-SORGUE: The 52-year-old, twice-a-year antiques fair in pretty Isle-sur-la-Sorgue was formerly known as the Foire Internationale d’Arts et d’Antiquités. It's now called "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 at each of two shows. It happens in Spring (usually Easter weekend) and again in late summer. The 2019 dates are April 19 to 22 and August 15 to 18. 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 along with decorators and stylists. The April event is themed “Vintage” while the August event’s theme is still to be decided, but will be more universal as it's a more-popular show. The fair is produced by 
AntiquesArt & You and all the info is on their site here.

L’ISLE-SUR-LA-SORGUE: The famous Floating Market happens every year on the morning of the first Sunday of August (August 4, 2019). Flat-bottomed boats known as "Nego-Chin" are decorated with flowers and filled with local products; they float down the river and dock along the river banks, with locals in colorful costumes on board. For info, click here.

LA ROQUE D’ANTHERON: July 20 to August 18, 2019: 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 39th annual. 
festival-piano.com. See site for other performances throughout the year.

LOURMARIN, July to October, 2019: 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 as one of the  "Most Beautiful Villages of France." chateau-de-lourmarin.com

MONTE CARLO: Monte Carlo Sporting Summer Festival of Live Music, July/August, 2019. 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 Chorégies festival is held annually from June through August; this year’s dates are June 19 to August 6, 2019. 
choregies.fr.

VAISON LA ROMAINE: The 23rd Annual Choralies de Vaison presents nine days of singing, concerts, workshops and more. The next Choralies are Aug 1 to 9, 2019. choralies.org+33 (0)4 72 19 83 40.

SEPTEMBER

ALL OVER FRANCE: The next French Heritage Days (Journées du Patrimoine) will be September 20 to 22, 2019. 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: 10th Annual Tous au Restaurant promotion, September, 2019, with dates TBA. 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). tousaurestaurant.com/en.

ARLES: The dates for the Rencontres d'Arles, the large international photo expo, are July 1 to Sept 22, 2019. 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 1 to 7. For info in English, click 
here

ARLES: The Feria du Riz (Rice Festival) will be Sept 7 and 8, 2019. The main event is bullfighting, but a horse festival and the popular foodie event Camargue Gourmande are also part of the Feria.  One week before the Feria the Espace Toro is set up in the Gimeaux corral, where you can see the bulls that will be used during the Feria du Riz, learn about  the different types of bullfights and more.  All the info is here.

CASSIS: 10th annual Vendanges Etoilées Festival, September, 2019. 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, 2019: 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 as one of the "Most Beautiful Villages of France." 
chateau-de-lourmarin.com

NÎMES: The big Feria des Vendanges de Nîmes is September 2019, with exact dates to come. This celebration of the wine harvest features corridas, concerts, animations, exhibitions, abrivados and more. For info click 
here

SAINT-REMY: 10th Annual Jazz à Saint-Remy will be in September, 2019 at the Alpilium. Reserve online or at the Tourist Office. 
jazzasaintremy.fr

SAINT-TROPEZ: Sept 28 to Oct 6, 2019 are the dates for the 20th 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 traditional yachts that are majestic “works of art” side-by-side with new-generation boats featuring cutting-edge technology. 
Lesvoilesdesaint-tropez.fr

OCTOBER

AVIGNON: The Vibrations sound and light show is Aug to Sept, 2019. Learn more here.

LOURMARIN, July to October, 2019: 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 as one of the  "Most Beautiful Villages of France." 
chateau-de-lourmarin.com

SAINT-TROPEZ: Sept 28 to Oct 6, 2019 are the dates for the 20th 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 traditional yachts that are majestic “works of art” side-by-side with new-generation boats featuring cutting-edge technology. Lesvoilesdesaint-tropez.fr

NOVEMBER

ARLES: Provence Prestige is a 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, 2019. Info here

MONTE CARLO: Monte Carlo Jazz Festival, November, 2019. For info, click 
here

NICE: Alpes-Maritimes/Nice-Cannes Marathon: November, 2019, marathon06.com

NÎMES: Nimagine: Salon des Createurs. November, 2019. In a large, indoor space, more than 150 exhibitors discuss and sell their work. Handicrafts, art, jewelry, decor and much more. Info here

NÎMES: Salon des Antiquaires. 2019 dates TBA but it's usually in very late Nov or early Dec. Info 
here.

DECEMBER

All OVER THE BOUCHES DU RHONE: The 27th annual Les Chants de Noel presents 63 free Christmas concerts across the region, throughout the month of December, including a number of major concerts in "emblematic" venues. Programs include gospel, jazz flamenco and more. All details are here.

AIX: The city stages a large, very atmospheric Christmas market every year on the Cours Mirabeau. The 2019 dates haven't been announced but they're usually from the third week in November to the end of the year. Aix Tourist Office.

LYON: The city will be beautifully ablaze with sound and light installations again, during the annual Fete de Lumières. It's not Provence of course but if you haven't seen it, it's a must. Specific dates to be announced, in December 2019. All the info is 
here.

NICE: Christmas in Nice, Christmas Market and Village. Dates to be announced but it usually runs from Dec 1 to Jan 1. Info is here



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