The French Riviera is home to a whole range of excellent festivals and events throughout the year. The following shows those scheduled for 2017 along with fixed French public holidays. The calendar will be updated on a regular basis so do check back from time to time. (Event location and dates are subject to change by the organizers.)
Do note that for major events, such as the Cannes Film Festival, Menton Lemon Festival and Nice Mardi Gras Carnival, hotel accommodation and quality B&B’s near to these festivals are often booked several months if not a couple of years in advance. To avoid disappointment inquire about accommodation well before you sort out your travel arrangements.
PUBLIC HOLIDAY – Sunday 1st January
Saint-Blaise Festival – Valbonne
Saturday 28th January to Sunday 29th
Animated weekend that combines tradition and modernity: a visit to the vineyard communal, free tour of the Heritage Museum, farmers market, cooking demonstrations, folk dances, grand Carnival Parade.
Biot Mimosa Festival
Sunday 5th February
Every February Biot dresses up in yellow, as garlands and bouquets of mimosa brighten every corner of the village as various folk groups, parade floats, ‘big heads’ from the Nice Carnival, marching bands and majorettes parade through the old streets. A great day out for all the family.
Mardi Gras Carnival – Nice
Saturday 11th February to Sunday 26th February
When Nice comes alive with street processions, flower parades, concerts and fireworks. Each year has a different theme, prompting the creation of huge papier mâché figures ‘les grosses têtes’. The theme for 2017 is ‘King of Energy’.
Nice Carnival Run
Tuesday 14th February
Europe’s most festive race takes place on Promenade des Anglais in Nice. Participants choose from 5km or 10km. Children’s race, disguise contest, concert, Carnival obstacles and activities, giant dance and more.
International Games Festival – Cannes
Friday 24th February to Sunday 26th February
Held at the Palais des Festivals de Cannes, this festival will welcome over 270 exhibitors, key players from the gaming world as well as 300 authors and illustrators, showcasing everything from board games to the latest simulation game. Participate in tournaments, discover the game of the year, or meet the person behind your favourite video game.
84th Annual Lemon Festival – Menton
Saturday 11th February to Saturday 1st March
This year’s theme: Broadway! Menton’s Lemon Festival attracts over 240,000 visitors every year to its Jardins Biovès and surrounding streets. Designs up to 10 metres tall and some incredible decorations. It’s the second biggest event on the Riviera after the Carnival of Nice and before the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monaco. Over 300 professionals work on the projects and 145 tonnes of oranges and lemons are used.
Grand Mimosa Procession – Bormes-les-Mimosa
Wednesday 15th to Wednesday 22nd February (estimated date)
79th Corso Fleuri that dates back to the 17th century and is one of the town’s most popular events. Twelve tonnes of mimosa sprigs and 80,000 flowers are needed to decorate the dozen floats that parade in the streets of the old village on the last weekend of February. The floral decorations consist entirely of fresh cut flowers. The float-makers set a different theme every year and pass on their skills down the generations.
First weekend of March (estimated date)
Re-enactment on the beach and throughout Golfe-Juan to celebrate the bicentenary of Napoleon’s landing. This year Napoleon will be played by Jean-Gérald Larcin, a 52-year old Belgian originating from Mons and a jeweller by trade in Brussels. Read more here.
Magic Festival – Antibes
March – date to be confirmed
The finest international magicians and illusionists performing.
Naval Flower Battle – Villefranche-sur-Mer
March – date to be confirmed
Naval Flower Battle held in the Port de la Santé featuring a parade of Mediterranean “pointus” boats decorated with arrangements in a variety of patterns made from local flowers (carnations, mimosas…).
Foire Internationale de Nice
Saturday 4th to Monday 13th March
One of the most popular events of the French Riviera with more 140 000 visitors, 1200 exhibitors and spread across 17 000 m² : Palais des Expositions, Palais Acropolis and outdoors on the l’Esplanade Tassigny.
Violet Festival – Tourrettes-sur-Loup
Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th March
Village streets are full of activity from 9.30 am, with a Floral Procession in the early afternoon and the day ending with the Flower Battle, which everyone can take part in. Read more here.
Printemps des Poetes – Nice
For two weeks, Nice celebrates poetry in its many forms through events held in theatres, schools and cafés.
75th Annual ‘Race in the Sun’ Paris-Nice Cycling Race
Monday 6th to Monday 13th March
Gruelling cycling race that covers 1,290km in 8 legs. Col de Vence, La Turbie and Col d’Èze are part of the itinerary of the now legendary last leg of this Course au Soleil (Race in the Sun).
Gourd Festival – Nice
Nice’s gourd festival is held in the Cimiez gardens. The event traditionally symbolises the end of winter. As well as gourd-painting events, gourd-based dishes are also served.
PUBLIC HOLIDAY – Monday 17th April, Easter Monday
28th Fête des Jardins – Sophia-Antipolis
Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd April (estimated date)
Your chance to view (and buy) an enormous variety of Mediterranean plants, trees and shrubs. Organised by the Société des Gens de Jardins Méditerranéens.
1st ‘Jardins de la Côte d’Azur’ Festival – Antibes, Cannes, Grasse, Menton & Nice
Saturday 1st April through to Monday 1st May
Inspired by the ‘Gardens’ event “Jardin aux Tuileries” in Paris on the 3rd June 2016, the Alpes-Maritimes Department (06) launch their first festival and competition celebrating a few of the most beautiful gardens located in the main towns of the Côte d’Azur: Cannes – Jardin de la Villa Rothschild; Menton – Jardin Biovès; Grasse – Esplanade Honoré Cresp; Nice – Jardin Albert 1er on the Promenade du Paillon; Antibes – Pinède Gould at Juan-les-Pins.
6th Annual Marché Italien – Mougins Village
April – date to be announced
Entry is free. Demos, food stands, tastings, pizza tossing and much more. Three days to discover fine Italian food and wine, including charcuterie, cheese, sweets, truffles and truffle products and more.
Orange Festival – Bar-sur-Loup
Saturday 15th to Monday 17th April
Orange blossom festival celebrated throughout the village. Read more here.
Nice Half Marathon – Nice
Saturday 15th to Sunday 16th April
Held end-April along the Promenade des Anglais. Some 4,000 runners compete in this annual sporting event. There are 3 race held over that weekend: 10km, La Niçoise (5km) and the Half Marathon (Sunday).
Fête du Miel – Mouans-Sartoux
Sunday 30th April
Talks and demonstrations of opening of a hive, honey extraction and also various information stands and special garden honey plants will be installed in the castle park. Many beekeepers will present their products on the market and the public will share the secrets of their craft. Showcase of different flavours of honey in a gastronomical display.
Monday 1st May, Labour Day
Monday 8th May, Victory in Europe Day
Thursday 25th May, Ascension Day
Crossover Festival – Nice
(Date to be announced)
Crossover didn’t get its name by chance: the festival highlights artistic fusions, with invited groups at the “crossroads” of trends and generations.
15th Centiflora Festival – Plascassier
May – date to be confirmed
Animated festival in the small hamlet of Plascassier celebrating the Centiflora Rose. Floats, music, stalls selling local produce.
International Rose Exhibition – Grasse
Early May – date to be announced
Taking place for over 4 decades in the historic centre of Grasse, this exhibition is considered to be the leading annual European show of the cut rose. More than 50,000 roses are displayed in bouquets of 60 to 300 flowers. The rose, whether cut or a bush, is in the spotlight for the whole duration of the exhibition. Among these beauties is Centifolia, one of the roses still cultivated in the Grasse region.
Open de Nice Côte d’Azur
Tuesday 16th to Monday 22nd May
The most important tennis tournament held on the French Riviera and part of the ATP World Tour and held at the Nice Lawn Tennis Club.
70th Cannes Film Festival
Wednesday 17th to Sunday 28th May
12 days of the world’s most prestigious film festival and much sought-after Palme d’Or.
La Fête de Mai – Nice
Every Sunday in May, held in the Arènes de Jardins de Cimiez. Nice celebrates is history through a series of free events, refreshments featuring locally produced food and children’s entertainment.
European Night of Museums
Saturday 21st May
Museums throughout Europe (and of course the French Riviera) waive their entry fees for just one day, giving everyone the opportunity to discover for themselves the region’s rich cultural and artistic heritage. Placed under the patronage of the Council of Europe, Unesco and the International board of museums (Icom), the Night of Museums contributes to the elaboration of European cultural identity.
Latin Sails – St Tropez
Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th May (to be confirmed)
Sailboats, regatta and exhibitions.
PUBLIC HOLIDAY – Monday 5th June, Whit Monday
Wednesday 31st May to Sunday 4th June
Marking the opening of the Mediterranean regatta circuit, the first stage of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge or Trophée Panerai. It’s a stunning regatta drawing some of the world’s rarest vintage and classic yachts.
15th ‘Rendez-vous aux jardins’
Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th June
Across France over 2300 gardens open to the general public and offer guided visits, exhibitions, workshops, games, competitions and films. This year’s theme: ‘Le Partage du Jardin’ (Sharing the Garden).
Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th June
A unique showcase held in the Vieux Port de Cannes of the world’s most desirable goods and services created to deliver an experience that cannot be found elsewhere: yachts, aviation, prestige cars, modern art, horology, jewellery, design & lifestyle. VIP Lounge and on-site auction. Tickets on sale spring 2017.
Book Festival – Nice
June – date to be confirmed
More than 200 writers will be present. Autographs, debates, meetings, activities, lectures and more.
12th Annual International Festival of Gastronomy – Mougins
June – date to be confirmed
Previously held in September, the Festival is now held in June. Also known as ‘Les Etoiles de Mougins’ this is a great weekend for anyone who loves good food and wine in a fabulous setting
Festival de Musique Sacrée
Held in various churches and chapels in Nice. This festival is dedicated entirely to Baroque and religious music.
Fête de la Music – Nationwide
Wednesday 21st June
Since 1982 the Fête de la Musique has been held throughout the whole of France – and the world – and reunites amateur and professional musicians with an appreciative audience.
International Young Soloists Festival – Antibes
(Date to be announced)
Offering a stage, a symphonic orchestra to young musicians that have won great international prizes and sponsored by great artists… such is the vocation of this internationally renowned festival.
13th Annual Ironman France Championship – Nice
Sunday 25th June
Nice will again be hosting the legendary Ironman triathlon attracting athletes and spectators alike. The participants swim in the Mediterranean, bike through the challenging course in the Alps and run along Promenade des Anglais.
Nice en roller
(Date to be announced)
The Promenade des Anglais is taken over once a year by roller-bladers. As well as fun and games for all the family, there are also demonstrations and the staging of the French national cup race.
PUBLIC HOLIDAY – Friday 14th July, Bastille Day
Les Nuits Guitares – Beaulieu-sur-Mer
(Dates to be announced)
A not-to-be-missed event for guitar lovers held in the jardin de l’Olivaie in Beaulieu-sur-Mer.
Festival of Pyrotechnic Art – Cannes
For seven nights throughout July and August, different countries take on the challenge to produce the most spectacular firework display. Each display is a minimum of 25 minutes. Can be seen from various vantage points.
Ma Ville Est Tango – Menton
For 4 days Menton lives to the beat of Tango with a series of concerts, entertainment, exhibitions, cinema, dance classes, balls and street entertainment.
Les Nuits du Sud Festival – Vence
Saturday 8th to Saturday 22nd July
A key music event on the French Riviera combining diversity, discovery and good music with affordable prices. Open to all musics of the world.
Nice Jazz Festival – Parc de Cimiez
Saturday 15th to Saturday 22nd July
Jazz and Nice, an affair with a long history and one that the town is keen to preserve, like the crowning jewel in its musical heritage. Staged since the 1940s, this long-standing festival attracts jazz aficionados from all over the world.
(Dates to be confirmed)
57th Annual Jazz at Juan-les-Pins Europe’s oldest jazz festival. Stunning setting overlooking the bay and always brings top acts. 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.
Les Nuits Musicales du Suquet – Cannes
In front of Notre-Dame d’Espérance church, in the lovely setting of Old Cannes, a programme of chamber music associating the talent of young musicians and famous artists from France and abroad.
Festival of Chamber Music – St Paul de Vence
Date to be announced
When summer comes round, Saint-Paul de Vence hosts a Festival of Chamber Music on Place de la Courtine, at the foot of the village ramparts.
Les Plages Electroniques – Cannes
Go to the beaches and the Terrasses du Palais des Festivals in Cannes for seats to an electronic music festival that takes over the beach.
Held from the beginning of July in the Parc du Château, this event runs through to end of September. Actors in costume recount the story of Nice’s past in a three-hour guided tour.
Held on the promenade des Anglais, this series of concerts features a range of music from all over the world. The programme also offers dance performances and short film screenings.
PUBLIC HOLIDAY – Tuesday 15th August, Assumption Day
Jazz at Domergue – Cannes
Over five consecutive days, during the course of its program the festival reveals the Russian cultural identity through its various forms of artistic expression…
34th Pottery Festival – Vallauris
Sunday, 13th August
With its pottery industry dating back to the 16th Century, Vallauris has long been associated with this art form. Created in 1981 and organised every second Sunday in August with the collaboration of the local Tourist Office. This hugely successful festival celebrates the many potters and artists who have made Vallauris the capital of ceramics. A fun day for all the family that stretches well into the evening.
Festival de Ramatuelle – St Tropez
Created in 1985 as a tribute to the French actor Gérard Philipe. The festival, held during the first half of August, allows for a cultural holiday in a place where historic monuments are included with many other things to see and do.
Arlette Gruss Circus – Valbonne
August – dates to be announced
Every year the Big Top comes to Valbonne and the Pré des Arts with the legendary Arlette Gruss Circus a French circus founded in 1985 by Arlette Gruss.
Les Concerts du Cloitre – Nice
Series of classical concerts held at the Opéra de Nice and the Clôitre du Monastère de Cimiez during the summer.
Les Grimaldines – Gulf of St Tropez
World music festival, which has become an essential event in the Gulf of Saint Tropez and beyond bringing thousands of spectators to the village’s alleys and the medieval castle’s steps, yearning to discover new horizons in songs and music. Every Tuesday from mid-July to mid-August, this event takes you from one continent to another, offering an exceptional cultural world tour in five concerts
68th Annual Menton Classical Music Festival – Menton
At the Parvis Saint-Michel Archange and other venues around the town, Menton puts on the oldest classical music festival in Europe. Started in 1949 and continues to be one of the most important in Europe.
Catherine Segurane ceremony
Held in the Sainte Réparate Cathedral. Nice’s patron saint is commemorated with a special mass and wreath-laying ceremony at the Catherine Segurane memorial.
Cannes Yachting Festival
Tuesday 5th to Sunday 10th September
Europe’s unmissable and leading in-water boating event. Held in “Le Vieux Port” and “Port Pierre Canto” with over 600 boats and yachts (sailing and motor yachts, monohulls and multihulls) ranging in size from 2m to 52m. Shipyards offer trips out to sea for potential buyers to try out the finest yachts in the world and make an informed choice.
19th Edition of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez
The famous “Voiles de Saint Tropez” takes place at the end of September to the beginning of October. Modern and more traditional sailboats have united here for more than fifteen years, putting on an astounding show for nautical sports amateurs. Even non-experts can appreciate the beauty of boats on land or on the water.
Rencontre de Jardins – St Tropez
Sept – date to be announced
Created by TD Events in 2005 has now become a reference on the French Riviera, in the fields of landscaping, garden and landscape. Since 2008, special emphasis is given to areas of the environment and ecology with the integration of an area dedicated to eco-construction and materials and innovative products.
A number of villages (notably Antibes, Valbonne and Tourrettes-sur-Loup) bring together local potters to exhibit their creations in the village square. Here you’ll find beautiful hand-crafted creations in raku, stoneware, glazed earthenware and porcelain. There are also demonstrations of turning and carving.
Les Fêtes Gourmandes – Villeneuve Loubet
Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th September
Celebrated throughout France, a weekend of festivities bringing together the delights of local produce (wines, charcuteries, cheese, sweets), chefs, artists and musicians.
From Nice to Villefrance-sur-Mer. Details to follow.
14th Annual Lou Festin dou Pouort (Fête du Port) – Nice
September – details to follow.
European Heritage Days
Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th September
Created in 1984 by the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the European Heritage Days take place on the third weekend of September every year. The success of the event relies on the great variety of heritage attractions on offer to visitors: alongside masterpieces of civil or religious architecture, it also features reminders of industrial or farming activities, parks and gardens, archaeological sites, furniture, and literary, fluvial and military heritage. Combining many different initiatives, the European Heritage Days are an occasion for large numbers of visitors to discover public and private buildings which open their doors to the public just for this occasion. All these monuments, as well as monuments which are regularly open to the public, offer special activities for the event: guided tours, skills demonstrations, concerts, theatre performances and themed circuits.
Book Festival, Mouans-Sartoux
Thursday 5th to Saturday 7th October
This year will be the town’s 20th book festival. Comprising over 30 authors it is one of the main literary festivals in the south of France. Its main theme will be “Humanity beyond the wall”, featuring round tables, conferences, publisher booths, kids’ area and more.
Olive Harvest Season
Normally starts October 27th
This is the month when you’ll see large green nets are spread out under olive trees. The tree are then shaken or thrashed with bamboo poles to make their ripe fruit drop before being taken to the local mill where they are pressed into oil or turned into tapenade. Some olives are set aside for other culinary delights. The Alpes-Maritimes is the home of the Cailletier variety of olive recognised for its mild and fruity oil, offering almond and artichoke aromas.
Festival Internationale de Musique Militaire
Biennial military tattoo that takes place over the course of a weekend. This popular festival of military music also includes a grand parade.
Fête Patronale de la Ville de Nice Sainte Réparate
Colourful traditional Niçois festival that takes place in the streets of Vieux Nice.
Extreme Sailing Series – International Regatta
Hosted and supported since 2011 by the City of Nice. Key landmark in the sporting calendar of Nice.
Wednesday 1st November, All Saints Day
Saturday 11th November, Armistice Day
Salon du Chocolat of Cannes
World’s largest event dedicated to chocolate with dozens of fine chocolate artisans from the Alpes-Maritimes, France and even from around the world.
(Date to be confirmed)
The Marathon of Alpes-Maritimes, also known as the Nice-Cannes Marathon, is another high-profile sporting event held regularly on the French Riviera. The run between Nice and Canes, first organized in 2008, regularly reaches the full capacity of participants.
Foire aux Santons – Mouans-Sartoux
Friday 10th November to Sunday 24th December
A wonderful craft fair comprising of 22 ‘Santonniers’ who display their beautiful creations. Santons are clay figurines that depict the people, traditional trades, activities and costumes of Provence.
International festival featuring a broad repertoire of contemporary music performed by world renowned musicians.
Challenge de Lutte Henri Deglane
International wrestling contest, with some of the world’s Olympic champions competing for this prestigious prize.
Le Rouret Christmas Market
Sunday 26th November
Billed as “pure tradition” in the sense of past times/olden days and differs from many others in that it focuses on traditional artisan crafts with over 130 stalls and people dressed up in period costumes. Main roads are turned into one-way systems to allow parking spreading several kilometres.
PUBLIC HOLIDAY, Monday 25th December – Christmas Day
International Rowing Regatta
Held in the Baie des Anges in Nice, this regatta brings together the world’s best rowers to compete in pairs, eights and fours events.
Christmas Markets on the French Riviera
Christmas is a magical time on the French Riviera. Nearly every village has a Christmas Market with stalls featuring handcrafts and local artisans plus other goodies and activities. Check the town’s local tourist office website in October or early November for dates and activities. Various vineyards such as Château de Berne in Lorgues, Château Sainte-Roseline in Les-Arcs-sur-Argens, Château Saint Julien d’Aille in Vidauban, Clos des Roses in Fréjus or OAC Bellet in Nice either have an Open Day (Portes Ouvertes) at their vineyard or attend one of their local Christmas markets.
Valbonne Christmas Market
Wednesday 20th to Sunday 24th December
Follow the red carpet! The streets of the old village become filled with market stalls brimming with wonderful christmassy produce and gift ideas. Have your photo taken with Santa or visit the Foire aux Santons in the Salle Paroissiale (next to the St Blaise church). Get into the Christmas spirit listening to carols on Place des Arcades.
Christmas Village – Nice
Date to be confirmed but usually 5 December to 4th January
Traditional festive market held on Place Masséna. Around forty wooden chalets are set up in the square, selling Christmassy items such as jewellery, food, crafts, clothing and other gifts. There is also the Big Wheel, a children’s area of trampolines and bouncy castles, usually a merry-go-round shaped like a Christmas tree, oyster and champagne bars.
This is fast becoming a must-do tradition with a Christmas Dip in Cagnes-sur-Mer normally on 6th December at 11 am (enrollment at 9:30am at the sailing club) and on the 14th December at 10am in Villeneuve-Loubet (plage de la Fighière).
Christmas Day Swim – Nice
Monday 25th December
Every year, swimmers take to the rather chilly waters of the Mediterranean from Nice’s Ruhl Plage.