All over France, you can find festivals rooted deep in history or based on modern culture. Even with the pandemic going on, many events in the second half of 2020 and 2021 are still due.
From the peaks of the Pyrenees to the parks of Paris, France hosts plenty of compelling events fit for the entire family. Thanks to a network of railways and roads, all of the festivities are within easy reach from the capital Paris.
The 10 Best Family Events in France
1. La Lorraine est Formidable (3-4 October 2020)
The northeastern French town of Luneville is the decor for La Lorraine est Formidable, a festival celebrating the traditions and culture of the Lorraine region. The setting for this event is Chateau de Luneville, a stunning 18th-century castle in the heart of the city. The annual La Lorraine est Formidable hosts a collection of around 200 stalls. During this traditional event, the offer ranges from craft demonstrations to booths with locally produced food and food and wine tastings. For kids, it’s fun to meet the live actors who dress up in the style of the Venetian Carnival.
Chateau de Luneville has extensive gardens that stretch out over 21 hectares and can be explored via the walking trails. If you wish to explore more of the Lorraine region, the tourist information stand at the festival serves you with essential advice on traveling in Lorraine.
Where to stay during La Lorraine est Formidable?
The holiday homes here are spacious, come with a fully equipped kitchen, and the kids will have a great time petting all the animals roaming around the property.
2. Vimoutiers Apple Festival (17-18 October 2020)
The south of the Normandy region is famous for having tons of apple orchards, and the Vimoutiers Apple Festival or Normandy is the perfect celebration of this gleaming fruit. The aim of this annual festival is to honor the apple. All the products made from the fruit are available for sales and tasting, from freshly baked apple pies to the region’s beloved apple cider and other beverages made from apples. Visitors can learn about apple cultivation, stroll around the farmers market, see the apple trade shows, and watch cider-making demonstrations. There is even a bake-off, with amateur cooks presenting their most delicate pastry and pie creations.
For the youngest travelers, a funfair is positioned in Vimoutiers during the Apple Festival.
Where to stay during the Vimoutiers Apple Festival?
Stay in a picturesque holiday house for five with flatscreen tv, barbecue facilities, and two bedrooms to sleep a family.
3. Great Roman Games (23-25 October 2020)
Nimes is an excellent example of a well-preserved Roman settlement, and therefore this southern French city is the perfect setting for a Roman-themed event. Re-enactors from all over Europe gather to imitate Roman games in the amphitheater of Nimes, one of the most pristine remains of Roman architecture in France. Visitors will experience typical Roman games almost the same way the public spectated these events 2000 years ago. The Great Roman Games bring chariot racing, gladiator fights, and epic battles to modern-day Nimes. The theme for the 2020 edition is Ceasar and the conquest of Rome.
Outside the stadium, dress parades show the fashion in the Roman Empire, and the children can learn how to handle Roman weaponry. To soak up more of the Roman atmosphere, it’s also recommended to do a guided tour of the Roman Maison Carrée temple.
Where to stay during the Great Roman Games?
A central location, gorgeous design, and the availability of family rooms: this hotel has plenty of draws.
4. Festival of Light (6-9 December 2020)
Every year, the city of Lyon is bathing in lights around the 8th of December. The fiesta is a thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary, who is believed to have saved the people of Lyon from a plague in 1643. To thank Mary, citizens would put candles behind the windows of their house to illuminate the city during the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Festival of Light nowadays is a grand international event with millions of visitors each year. The crowds are attracted by light artworks, light shows, and a magical atmosphere.
The central square place des Terreaux is the stage of several spectacular light shows, all revolving around the fountain. Many of the historical buildings in the center will have digital murals projected on them, making it a joy to just wander around the city and get lost in an enchanting world of light.
Where to stay during the Festival of Light?
This quaint boutique hotel serves budget-conscious travelers who want to stay in the city center. The location, buffet breakfast, and a metro station nearby are some of the advantages.
5. Christmas Market Strasbourg (20 November – 30 December 2020)
The Christmas Market in Strasbourg has been an iconic event for centuries. The center of this northeastern French city transforms into a celebration of lights, winter activities, and comforting food and beverages. A giant Christmas tree and hundreds of timber chalets are set up in the heart of Strasbourg to mimic a winter sports town in the Alps. Some of the cool things to do on this legendary winter fair include ice skating, visiting a concert, and walking the wonderfully illuminated streets.
Kids will enjoy the Christmas vibes on this fair, as theater performances, readings of Christmas stories, and cookie-baking workshops are part of the festival’s program. For the adults, mulled wine is a welcome treat to beat the cold on winter nights, and the craft stalls have heaps of souvenirs to take home.
Where to stay during the Christmas Market Strasbourg?
With its uniquely designed rooms, spa bath, coffee machine, and tons of other conveniences, Hotel Beaucour is an excellent pick in Strasbourg’s heart.
6. International Comic Strip Festival (28-31 January 2021)
Both children and adults can get lost in the fantasy worlds as portrayed in comic strips. To appeal to that imagination, Angoulême hosts one of the largest comic strip festivals in the world. Besides extensive exhibitions full of famous comic strip drawings of kids’ favorite heroes, the International Comic Strip Festival has an impressive program over the course of four days. There will be sketching demonstrations that sync with live music, a live drawing of a magazine by several artists, conferences on strip culture, and even masterclasses.
As a visitor, you’ll also have a chance to create your own fantasy world in Manga City, where you can draw new characters on computer screens. If you’re planning to purchase any comic strip books, chances are high that the book’s creator is there to sign it. The International Comic Strip Festival is an excellent place to meet old comic heroes, or discover a whole new world.
Where to stay during the International Comic Strip Festival?
With a fitness center, restaurant, and an outdoor terrace, you might only want to leave this hotel to go to the festival.
7. Nice Carnival (13-27 February 2021)
The carnival of Rio de Janeiro and Venice might be more famous, but the annual Nice Carnival is certainly not inferior to those. The 2021 edition’s theme is “King of Animals”, and the streets of Nice will be packed with parades displaying this theme through exquisite fashion. One of the highlights of the daily parades is the giant puppet heads (grosses têtes) that usually depict real-life people as a caricature. During the parades, artists from all over the world show incredibly colorful costumes and dancing skills. The Parade of Flowers displays jaw-dropping parade vehicles totally made from flowers.
If you and your family show up at the parades fully dressed up, you’ll be granted free entrance to the Corsi carnival parade of lights. This is an evening show full of dance performances and acrobatics.
Where to stay during Nice Carnival?
Family rooms, the proximity to famous landmarks, a cozy lounge, and buffet breakfast turn this hotel into a true gem.
8. Festival Medieval de Sedan (15-16 May 2021)
The Festival Medieval de Sedan is an exciting yearly festival that makes visitors time-travel back to medieval times. Festivities take place in and around the Castle of Sedan, a massive 15th-century fortress in the historic quarter of the city. This festival mainly revolves around medieval games, such as wrestling, horse riding tournaments, and sword fights. Outside the castle, traditional food is served, and crafts such as glass blowing, forging, and clothes manufacturing are exhibited.
Inside, the castle’s museum is worth stopping by, as this gives you an even better impression of life in Sedan during the Middle Ages. The Castle of Sedan measures 35,000 square meters, has seven floors, and is the largest citadel in Europe.
Where to stay during Festival Medieval de Sedan?
What better way to experience this festival than to stay in the castle itself? The family rooms are equipped with lots of furniture, a tv, and a minibar.
9. Joan of Arc Festival (June 2021)
Reims, a city, 150 kilometers northeast of Paris, holds a celebration that honors France’s most famous war hero. Joan of Arc was one of the March to Reims’ driving figures, which symbolized the end of the threat of the Kingdom of England and the crowning of Charles VII. Just like during the Festival Medieval de Sedan, the Joan of Arc Festival is dedicated to the Middle Ages. Live roleplayers portray the medieval townsfolk with impeccable traditional costumes, and workshops show the techniques of medieval handicrafts. The highlight of the Joan of Arc Festival is the coronation ceremony of Charles VII, which is performed by dozens of actors.
Music performances, pumping parades, and re-enacting of the historical events make this festival a fun experience to take part in.
Where to stay during Joan of Arc Festival?
The family suite can host 4 people and has a mini library, video games plus consoles, and streaming services for guests’ entertainment.
10. World Puppet Theater Festival (17-26 September 2021)
If you’re a fan of puppet arts and theater, Charleville-Mézières is the place to be in September 2021. The World Puppet Theater Festival has its origin in 1961 and takes place every two years in this commune on the border with Belgium. Performers from all continents bring their own puppets to the streets of Charleville-Mézières, ranging from hand puppets to enormous creations. The epicenter of the festivities is Place Ducale, a square where most puppet shows and mysterious shadow theater performances take place in the open air. Don’t be surprised if you bump into some street performers dressed up like puppets. Charleville-Mézières turns into the capital of trolls, fairy-tale figures, and other fantastic characters for no less than ten days.
Where to stay during the World Puppet Theater Festival?
Opt for the family room or triple room, both of which provide books, board games, DVDs, and coffee and tea making amenities. Guests also have a sauna and hot tub access.
Planning a trip in winter? Check out our guide to the Ultimate Family Ski Trip in Europe.