End of January: Circque Phenix, ParisMarch – April: Berck Sur Mer Kite Festival
Once a year circus actors from the best circus schools in the world compete according to age groups and professions. The new, young talented that get discovered here turn into the famous artists of tomorrow. The great crowds of spectators enjoy the animal trainers, clowns, acrobats and jugglers who perform in traditional as well as modern circus shows. This is a marvelous experience for the whole family.
Mid Feb – Early Mar: Menton Lemon Festival
Held in the second half of February this carnival-like festival sees more than 200,000 visitors enjoying the work of 300 professionals who use 145 tons of citrus frutis in 15 days of fun. The streets of Menton belong to the giants, the wind musicians, acrobats, drummers and the masked crowds that dance to the music of the parades.
The town of Berck Sur Mer has held an international kite festival for more than two decades. People come from all over France as well as other countries all over the world to fly kites of every colour and shape.
Mid-May: Cannes Film Festival
The 66th Festival de Cannes will take place from 15th to 26th May 2013. This International Film Festival was created by the French Minister of Education and Fine Arts who was keen to establish an international cultural event in France the rival the Venice Film Festival. Today, more than 30,000 professionals from all over the world meet at the festival. The festival is a social as much as a professional event and sees hundreds of thousands of guests enjoying the atmosphere. Not to forget the 900 screenings available.
Mid-May: Festival Medieval de Sedan
Sedan Castle is one of the great European castles and is a worthy host for the thousands of people who come here to experience the atmosphere of the Middle Ages for this medieval festival. Traditional banquets, fairs, tournaments, wrestling competitions and sword duels await the festival goers.
http://www.chateau-fort-sedan.fr/en Mid-May: Pentecost Feria, Nîmes
Don’t miss out on the Feria de Pentecôte! 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 revelers enjoying the open-air concerts and dance parties that go on throughout the night.
May to mid-October
Every year since 1992, the gardens of Chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire play host to the annual Festival des Jardins, a garden festival with up to 30 themed gardens. From over 300 proposals 20 to 30 gardens are selected for inclusion in the festival. Included were contributions from the UK, Japan, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. The displays are also illuminated under the 'Gardens of Light' theme allowing visitors the chance to explore the gardens by night. The chateau is also enhanced by the glow of over 2000 candles.
June 21: La Fete de la musique, National
La Fete de la musique is a street musical festival held every year on June 21st, the day of the summer solstice throughout the whole country. Thousands of musicians gather in the streets, bars, and cafes giving free performances of all kinds of music, from jazz to rock and from hip-hop to electronic music.
http://www.fete-musique.com/ Jun – Aug: Carcassone Festival
The preserved medieval city of Carcassonne is always worth a visit, especially during the summer-long Carcassonne Festival. A mix of music, theatre and dance is performed among the walled city's historic buildings, including the Grand Théâtre and Basilique Saint-Nazaire.
July 14th: Bastille Day
A day of national celebration for the French, 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. Celebrations start with a traditional military parade along the Champs Elysees and there is a festival atmosphere throughout the day, finishing with the city night-sky turned bright by magnificent and noisy fireworks shows. Festivities last until the late hours.
Mid-Sep: Mulhouse Beer Festival
The city of Mulhouse in North East France holds an annual beer festival (Modial de la Bière Mulhouse) lasting three days and with a variety of events and shows. As well as drinking beer participants can watch beer contests, exhibitions on making beer and beer and cheese workshops.
Mid-Oct: Le Salon du Chocolate, Paris
Chocolate lovers who visit Paris in the second half of October can enjoy the delights of dozens of chocolatiers and see how chocolate is produced from the picking of the cocoa beans to the end product. Manufacturers from Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Russia, Japan, Canada to name but a few come and present their wares on more than 400 stands. A heavenly delight for children and sweet lovers of all ages.
Mid-Oct: Festival Autumn de Lanvellec
The music festival of Lanvellec celebrates the magical music of Brittany. Taking place over 12 days the gentle sounds of the Dallam’s Organ, which was built in 1653, transport the listeners on a journey into the heart of traditional French music. The festival also sees a range of artists from around the world participation in what is a relaxed festival before the winter storms.
Early Oct: The Grape Harvest Festival, Montmartre
Clos Monmartre vineyard, nestled in the hills of Montmartre is a tiny relic of the once abundant vineyards that flourished all over this northern Parisian neighbourhood. But once a year, in early October, all of Montmartre celebrates the Fete des Vendanges de Montmartre – the Grape Harvest festival.
The Louvre in Paris hosts the Grand Tasting. This is a unique meeting of winemakers and lovers of wine. The wines presented are approved by Bettane and Desseauve before being accepted for the Grand Tasting.
Nov – Dec: Lille Christmas Market
Get into the festive spirit with Lille's month-long Christmas Market. The Place Rihour is absolutely taken over by stalls selling arts and crafts. There's entertainment for children plus a Ferris wheel and traditional Christmas delicacies to try or take away. Visitors with children can have photos taken with Father Christmas, who attends the market and participates in a spectacular event on the Saturday before Christmas - when he "falls" from the Chamber of Commerce's 80-metre-high Belfry.
Early December: Feast of St. Nicholas, Nancy
Each year, several countries in Europe celebrate the feast of Saint Nicholas in December. In Nancy, France the festival is growing in popularity and has been transformed into a fairytale, taking you in to the legendary and magical world of Saint Nicholas. An equestrian parade, a craft market, exhibitions, theatrical performances and concerts are also on the agenda, not to mention a spectacular firework display.
2nd week in December: The Festival of Lights, Lyon
France expresses gratitude towards Mary, mother of Jesus on December 8th each year. This uniquely Lyonnaise tradition dictates that every house place candles along the outsides of all the windows to produce a spectacular effect throughout the streets. With over 4 million tourists coming to Lyon for this event, this festival includes other activities based on light and usually lasts 4 days, with the peak of activity occurring on the 8th.
Photo credit: raymond chenon (photo 1), leauquidort (photo 2), dalbera (photo 3), www.salonduchocolat.fr (photo 4)