Provence has a wonderful diversity of festivals, fairs and events happening throughout the year. The following Festival and Events in Provence 2017 Guide shows those planned for 2017 along with fixed French public holidays. Please note that event location and dates maybe subject to change by the organizers.
PUBLIC HOLIDAY – Sunday 1st January
Richerenches – Marché aux Truffles
Saturday mornings, November 2016 to end of March 2017
The market takes place from 9 am to 1 pm on Avenue de la Rabasse (Rabasse is the Provencal word for truffle) and on Cours du Mistral. Conversations tend to focus on a single subject – the truffle. Discussions on the price give way to transactions as truffles are admired and weighed. The Richerenches truffle market accounts for approximately 50% of truffle transactions in south-east France and approximately 30% of all the truffles in France. In the 12th century Richerenches (north of Orange) was the most important Commanderies des Templiers in Provence.
Carpentras – Winter Truffle Market
Friday mornings, 18th November 2016 to end March 2017
Cour de l’Hôtel-Dieu (for wholesalers) 9am (duration 1 hour) and outside the Tourist Office (sales to individuals) 8am to midday. Harvested on the slopes of Mont Ventoux, the “tuber melanosporum” is traded on Friday mornings with buyers coming from far and wide. In an elaborate ceremony, the truffles are weighed on hand-held scales and carefully wrapped, money is discretely exchanged and produce handed over from grower to gourmet customer.
Wednesday 18th to Sunday 22nd January
In January, Avignon becomes the horse capital of the world.
The 32nd Cheval Passion horse show takes place in January at the Avignon fairgrounds, the “Parc des Expositions”. Over 1,200 horses, 90 hours of performances, 250 exhibitors, 12 corrals, 12 display halls on grounds covering 50,000 m2. Cheval Passion also means Poney Passion, field trip days, shows of the Crinières d’Or gala.
Avignon – Les Hivernales Dance Festival
Wednesday 18th to Wednesday 25th January
Les Hivernales dance festival takes place every year during the winter holidays. Les Hivermômes is a special programme aimed at a younger audience. The festival hosts a range of fabulous shows and productions as well as workshops, exhibitions, lectures, videos, debates as well as an open stage event. Every year particular emphasis is placed on meeting the public with a variety of exhibitions, videos, les Hiverôclites (open stage event for new talent – free admission) and numerous workshops.
Richerenches – Truffle Mass, The Feast of Saint Antoine
Sunday, 15th January
Each year on the third Sunday in January a special Mass is given in Richerenches. Starting at 10.3am it pays homage to the “Black Diamond” and Saint Antoine, the patron saint of truffle growers. The Mass is said in Provençal, and at the time of the Offertory, the faithful give truffles as the offering. At the end of the Mass, which is sung by a different choir each year, the members of the Confraternity of the Black Diamond and of Gastronomy, whose seat is in Richerenches, parade out of the church in full ceremonial costume, followed by the faithful.
Pernes-les-Fontaines, Truffle Festival, Centre culturel des Augustins
Sunday, 29th January
Brings together enthusiasts, first-timers, tourists and foodies to celebrate truffles. Programme offers truffle market, search demos, conference, tasting of truffle scrambled eggs and other truffle products.
Arles – Feria du Pacques
Friday, 14th to Monday 17th April
Bullfights and bull games in the Arena and lots of other activities around town. It opens the French bullfighting season in France.
Carpentras – 6th Annual Strawberry Festival
The festival brings together growers, shopkeepers and the public in the center of town for demos, lots of strawberry products and lots of tasting. Meet the growers who who raise the famous “fraise de Carpentras”… and the winemakers who produce AOC Ventoux rosé wines.
Isle-sur-la-Sorgue – Foire Internationale Arts et Antiquités
Saturday 15th to Monday 17th April
One of the biggest ones in Europe with hundreds of vendors selling all over town. Isle sur la Sorgue Tourist Office website here should have complete info as the event draws closer.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape – 8th Annual Printemps de Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Around 80 wine producers present their wine. Workshops on various themes (by reservation only and numbers are limited). This is a great opportunity to learn about this wine – and buy a bottle or two. Takes place at the Salle Dufays on the Place de la Renaissance in Châteauneuf.
BONNIEUX – Pottery Festival
Sunday 16th and Monday 17th April
For amateurs and professionals of fine pottery, Bonnieux becomes the temple of ceramics. Pottery workshops for children, musical entertainment.
Cucuron – Sainte Tulle’s May Day
Saturday, 27th of May
Each year, the village of Cucuron relives the traditional Saint Tulle May Day. In honour of Saint Tulle, the patron saint of the village, who is said to have protected Cucuron in 1720 from the plague epidemic. In the early afternoon, the villagers take off from the Town Hall, in search of a tall poplar tree- known as the “May”. They fell the tree and bring it back, amidst traditional singing and dancing by the children. The men carry the tree to the church, where it is blessed by the village priest and planted, followed by Mass in Provençal. The day ends with a grand village feast – food is available on site, with an aioli served by participating restaurants.
St Remy de Provence – 35th Annual Transhumance
Monday 5th June
Local shepherds herd their flocks (roughly 3500 sheep and goats) three times around the village’s circular main square before taking them up to graze the green pastures of the Alpilles Mountains for the summer. An all-day flea market and goat-cheese fair starts at 9 am on the Place République and then the Transhumance starts about 10:30 am.
Orange – Les Chorégies d’Orange
Monday 19th June through to Saturday 5th August
Les Chorégies d’Orange–the oldest festival in France– held annually it 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!
All Over France – Fête de la Musique
Wednesday 21st June
Day and night, free music will take over streets, cafés, music venues, historic sites, gardens, parks and churches all over France.
Uzès – Garlic Market
Saturday 24th June (Fête de la St Jean)
Stalls piled high with Pyramids, garlands, tresses of garlic.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape – Fete de la Veraison
July and August
‘Véraison’ is the vital stage in the life of the wine grape as it grows slowly towards maturity, in the summer heat. And for three days, this famous wine-making village, twinned with Castel Gandolfo, the Italian summer residence of the Holy See, travels back in time to the 14th century when the Popes lived in Avignon. Military and medieval camps spring up in the town’s squares, banners blow in the wind, herbs and meat simmer in great cauldrons giving off wonderful aromas, arquebusiers shoot cannons, horsemen march in rhythm on their mounts and lords and ladies socialize. While a cart distributes unlimited amounts of wine, the sovereign pontiff proceeds through the narrow steep roads to the festive sound of medieval music. There will be a grand candlelit banquet, a trial of the Inquisition, a medieval wedding, mass, torch lit procession and more.
Avignon – Festival d’Avignon
A huge theatre and music festival that takes over the whole city. A day by day “Spectators Guide” has all the info about readings, films, exhibits, live radio broadcasts and other events. Most are free. The guide will be available starting in early July at the reception desk of the Cloitre Saint-Louis, on the Place Horloge, on the Louis Pasteur campus of the University of Avignon and at every performance venue.
Arles – 22nd Annual “Les Suds à Arles”
Monday 10th July to Sunday 16th
World Music Festival with dance, singing, music.
Avignon: Wine Harvest Celebration
For one day, the Papal City of Avignon takes part in a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages –a popular, celebration in honour of the start of the grape harvest. On the agenda: a parade of the wine confraternities with brass bands and colourful ceremonial robes. Mass in Provençal at Saint Agricol church; start of wine harvest officially proclaimed in the Clos de la Vigne vineyard, located at the highest point in the city centre.
Isle-sur-la-Sorgue – Floating Market
Sunday 7th August between 9am and 12:30
Once a year little flat boats, called “négo-chin”, are decorated with flowers and laden with local products from Provence, such as wine, olives, fruits, goat’s cheese, wicker-work, pottery, and vegetables. They float down the river and come dock along the banks of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, with the fishermen’s family, in local costume, on board.
St Christol – Lamb & Ram Fair
Sunday, 7th August
This 58th fair is centred on hundreds of sheep known as gimmers or ewes. It’s a traditional fair in Provence where shepherds gather. There are demonstrations of sheep dog trials, shearing, spinning and weaving, pony rides, animal shows, as well as stands selling local ware, followed by a delicious country meal to close this beautiful countryside event.
Sault – Lavender Celebration
Tuesday, 15th August
The fields around the village of Sault are fragrant with the recently-harvested lavender and it is time to celebrate. At 10am, there’s a lavender-cutting championship, where workers harvest with the scythe and reserved for professional lavender cutters. There is also a lavender-cutting contest, with a scythe, for non-professionals. All day long there is music and dancing with Provençal folk music groups. Horse and buggy parades and rides. Market with lavender growers, farm products, a book fair and an art show. Crafts village, horse show, and a closing concert in Provençal.
Avignon – Animo Nature
Animo Nature show is one of the biggest animal shows in France. At the Avignon Exhibition Park, the show lets you discover 6,000 beautiful animals – fur, feathers and scales – displays of dogs, cats, birds, chickens and ducks, reptiles and chinchillas, animals from the farm and from the field, donkeys, mares and more.
Orange – Roman Legions Festival
Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th
Hundreds of costumed characters relive the story of the Veterans of the IInd Legion of Gaul, founders of the Roman colony in Orange. The city of Orange and the Roman Theatre are the venue for this exciting historical recreation. The powerful, unvanquished Roman army dominated the Mediterranean world from the 2nd century BC to the 5th century AD. The city of Orange is home to 2 major Roman sites – the Roman Theatre, part of UNESCO World Heritage, and the Roman Arc of Triumph.
Arles – Feria du Riz
Saturday 9th to Monday 11th
Major annual festival celebrating horses and all Camargue/Arles traditions. Tasting and sale of food and beverages grown or made in the Camargue or the Provence Pays d’Arles such as wine, olive oil, sauces, sweets, cheese and vegetables.
Arles – Festival du Cheval
Major horse spectacle in the Arles arena with over 100 horses, gardians and much more. Free and open to the public as part of the Feria du Riz.
All Over France – Journées du Patrimoine
Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th September
Free access to historic sites and museums and other wonderful places that are normally closed to the public throw open their doors.
Pertuis – Provence Luberon Marathon
Sunday 2nd October
Start in town of Pertuis and finish at the Tour d’Aigues, at the foot of the castle. The Provence Luberon marathon is the Vaucluse region’s leading sporting event as well as the 5th PACA region race: more than 3,500 participants and 5,000 supporters are expected in the Luberon. Other celebrations are also being held in conjunction with this sporting event: the Fête du Terroir (local food festival), as well as the Rencontre autour des Vins (Wine celebrations). The Marathon organisers, together with representatives from the world of wine, agriculture and traditional crafts, all join forces to make this Luberon meet an exclusive event where visitors can enjoy superb flavours, a sense of well-being and great quality of life.
Avignon: Farm Gastronomic Weekend
Members of the “Welcome to the Farm” network, from different regions in France, present their products and meet the public. An event organised by the Chamber of Agriculture from Vaucluse and from regions in France. The farmers who are members of the ‘Bienvenue à la ferme’ network present an entire range of products from their lands (foie gras, magrets, wines, Champagne, fruit juices, oils, cheeses, charcuterie, honey and jams). With tastings and food service.