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26 unmissable summer 2024 festivals and events in France

James Harrington
James Harrington - [email protected]
26 unmissable summer 2024 festivals and events in France
A band plays while people party during the annual Fete de la musique. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

From old rockers to classic theatre, via Celtic heritage and fireworks to big sporting occasions, here are some of our favourite French summer festivals.

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You’d be forgiven for thinking that this summer was all about politics and sport - what with June's European elections and Paris hosting the Olympics and Paralympics.

But summer in France really means festivals - you’ll find events great and small across the country celebrating everything from music and culture, to the great outdoors, to the fruits of the land or sea.

Here, in date order, is a selection of the hundreds of events taking place in France between June and August.

JUNE

Saint-Denis Festival

This festival for lovers of classical music actually starts at the end of May, but we’re claiming it for June as it runs until the 27th of the month – in the amazing environs of the basilica of Saint-Denis and the Maison d’éducation de la Légion d’honneur. For more information, click here.

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Festival de Nîmes

Another one that sneakily kicks off in May, but takes in the whole of June and runs all the way through to July 20th, the Festival de Nîmes once again brings modern music to the famous Roman Arena. This year’s line-up includes Shaka Ponk, Calogero, France’s Eurovision entrant Slimane, Avril Lavigne, Simple Minds, James Blunt and Bigflo & Oli. Find out more, here.

Anjou Festival

The second-biggest outdoor theatre event in France, which kicks off on June 3rd and runs to June 26th, really has to get a mention in our rundown of summer events. Details of the full programme of dramatic events are here.

D-Day, Normandy

More than 80 events will take place between June 1st and 16th at a variety of locations in Normandy, while on June 6th itself – the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion – a special ceremony is planned at Arromanches. More information, here.

READ ALSO What to expect for the 80th anniversary of D-Day in France

The two-week D-Day Festival offers guided hikes, commemorations, historical re-enactments, parades, an exhibition and parade of military and civilian vehicles, tours of installations and German bunkers, concerts and various activities on the theme of liberation.

Les Foulees du Gois

The premise of Les Foulees du Gois, at Beauvoir-sur-Mer, is simple. It’s a race. In fact, it’s several races – with events for male and female adult fun-runners and children. But the main event pits elite athletes in a 4km run along a submerging beach path against each other and the rising tide. Find out more here.

Fête de la musique

Villages, towns and cities across France come alive with the sound of music on Friday, June 21st, to celebrate the sheer joy of live performances in bars, cafés, venues and on the street.

Festival de Carcassonne

The annual festival of music, theatre, arts, dance, comedy and cinema - all set against the dramatic backdrop of the famous citadel - between June 24th and July 31st. Christophe Mae, Status Quo and The Stranglers, Lisa Cortes, Scorpions, Sting and Louise Attaque are among the many acts this year. Find out more here.

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Tour de France 

The annual cycle race begins in Florence, Italy, on June 29th and takes an unusual route through France before finishing, for one Olympic year only, in Nice on July 21st. You’ll find the official website here.

Festival d’Avignon

No rundown of summer events in France would be complete without mentioning the annual Festival d’Avignon, which celebrates – as it always does – the best of live theatrical performances, from June 29th to July 21st this year. The extremely full programme of events is available here

JULY

Pyrotechnic Art Festival

Not satisfied with the glitz and glamour of its Film Festival in May, Cannes turns on the lights again for six nights of music and fireworks in its six-week Pyrotechnic Art Festival, between July 4th and August 24th. No more details were available at the time of writing, but the website’s here.

Pause Guitare

Alice Cooper headlines this year’s Pause Guitare programme in the World Heritage city of Albi, southwest France. The relatively little-known music festival, which runs from July 4th to 7th has also bagged Simple Minds – who seem to be doing the grand tour of France this summer – and The Gossip, among others. Keep up to date here.

Fêtes de Bayonne

Known for drawing large crowds, this five-day event celebrates Basque culture with the famous bull run, large parties, street performances, traditional dances, and fireworks. You can even buy a traditional outfit (in the colours of white and red) at a local market nearby to better join in the celebration. This year, the event will run from July 10th until the 14th. You can find more information here.

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Grand Falconer’s Medieval Festival

Heading back to the Tarn, historic Cordes-sur-Ciel, hosts a two-day festival on July 13th and 14th taking visitors back to the historic towns mediaeval heyday. More here.

Fête nationale

July 14th is France's Fête nationale, often known as Bastille Day in the Anglophone world, which is officially a public holiday – but it falls on a Sunday this year, so there’s no long weekend in store. The big military parade is on the Champs-Elysée in Paris but most towns do something to mark the occasion, with concerts, parties and big, loud, fireworks displays. 

Equestria

Fans of all things horses should head to southwest France for the Equestria Festival at the National Stud Farm in Tarbes - which gets under way this year on July 16th and runs to July 21st. All the details are here.

Festival de Cornouaille

It translates as the Cornwall Festival, but it’s in Quimper, Brittany – and it has been going for more than a century (and don’t get us started on the geological relationship between Brittany and south-west England). This year’s event runs from July 18th to 21st and celebrates – as always – the best of Celtic culture in France. All the details are here.

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Menton Music Festival

Menton, near Nice, is more than just lemons, you know. And the 75th annual music festival, which runs from July 27th to August 12th, combines beautiful classical music with equally stunning scenery, overlooking the Mediterranean port, on the Forecourt of the Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel. More information here.

Games of the XXXIII Olympiad

That's the official title of the 2024 Olympic Games. We've written a fair bit about the Paris 2024 Olympics already, and there'll be more to come - it's the big event of the summer in France, after all. But the actual games themselves run from July 26th to August 11th. 

AUGUST

Festival du Bout du Monde

The End of the World Festival takes place from August 2nd to August 4th at Landaoudec Prairie on the Crozon Peninsula in Brittany, a few hundred metres from the Atlantic ocean. Editors and The Congos are among the acts in a packed showcase for a festival that’s nowhere near as gloomy as its name suggests. More here.

Corso de la Lavande

After the End of the World, you could head down to Dignes les Bains, in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, for a five-day festival dedicated to all things lavender, running from August 4th to 8th. Details are available here.

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Festival Interceltique de Lorient

Sticking in Brittany for a festival (August 12th to 18th) that does exactly what it says on the bodhran. More than 100 shows on stages across the Morbihan coastal town celebrate anything and everything Celtic. Artists at this year’s event include Matmatah, The Bothy Band and Julie Fowlis. Full details here.

Lacanau Pro

The Olympic Games surfing competition runs from July 27th to August 8th. If the hot wave action in Tahiti grabs your imagination, maybe head to Lacanau, in the somewhat nearer Gironde, to see the best European and international surfers compete at the Lacanau Pro, from August 12th to 18th. More information here.

Le Cabaret Vert

PJ Harvey, Queens of the Stone Age, Shaka Ponk, The Libertines and Korn head the line-up at the eco-friendly festival on the banks of the River Meuse in Charleville-Mézières, which runs from August 15th to 18th. Details here.

Rock en Seine

Lana Del Rey, Maneskin, Massive Attack, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, and The Kills are among the acts lined up for the last big rock event of the summer, at Domaine national de Saint-Cloud on the outskirts of Paris from August 21st to August 25th. The festival’s website is here.

Nice Jazz Festival

The Nice jazz festival, from August 20th to 23rd, features Kenny Garrett, Stella Cole, Monty Alexander and a whole host of other acts in the capital of the Riviera. More than 20 acts are taking part. Nice! More here.

2024 Summer Paralympics

The sporting summer - in fact, the entire summer holiday period - in France rounds off with the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris, which run from August 28th to September 8th. Then, it's back to work...

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Comments (1)

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Roger Bolt 2024/05/29 18:42
Plenty to get excited about here. However I’m surprised the Fete de la Saint Louis in Sète in August is omitted particularly as unlike many other listed festivals it focuses on local people and traditional local activities being built around Les Jouteurs who battle it out on the canals. . A unique spectacle !

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