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French School holidays, Public Holidays (Fêtes Nationale), festivals, and events in NORD and Pas de Calais – Day-tripper.net the web magazine for visitors to France.
Making a note of festivals and events before you go away can add some value to your break. Here we list as many of those as we have come across.
Please check with the local the tourist office for dates and other news.
A Fête is a festival, usually with eating, drinking, singing, dancing and often performances of some kind. A variations is a fête champêtre – a village festival, or the fête patronale, a celebration of the local Saint's day.
We have a page for Christmas shopping in Calais and the North of France. For local events we suggest you try the local tourist offices web sites.
For a summary of all the pages we have listing events, fetes and festivals in France.
Our extensive and comprehensive list of events, fetes and festivals in France concerning wine, food and other themes.
Events in Calais, France. www.calais.fr
Nord / Pas de Calais. www.tourisme-nordpasdecalais.fr
Excellent site for events, braderie, maps; www.planville.com
– Vivastreet, some useful information here as well. www.vivastreet.fr
Fortified Towns Day – Historical reconstructions, music and bell-ringing concerts, drama, exhibitions in 14 fortified towns. Tel: 0033 327 49 50 05 (music themed events).
Spring – agricultural shows, asparagus.
January / March – Dunkirk. Every year. Dunkerque Carnival. The pre-eminent springtime event in Northern France, Dunkerque (Dunkirk) Carnival is an amazing street spectacle with roots going back hundreds of years. So leave the booze cruise aisles of Auchan and head over for some lively carnival action!
Boulogne-sur-Mer. Every year. Festival of Sea Imagery. The Nausicaa centre and aquarium in Boulogne-sur-Mer presents the Festival of Sea Imagery, featuring five days of underwater documentaries, screenings, photo and painting exhibitions. The event is organised in partnership with the World Sub-Marine Images Festival in Juan-les-Pins.
Calais. Wine Growers Fair. Espace Calquella, near Auchan. Exit 41 from autoroute A16. Free entrance with your ferry ticket. Tel: 0033 321 19 79 79. www.salondesvignerons.com
Lille 3000 is a festival of cultural events focussing on a particular region, held bi-annually. Mid March to Mid July. www.lille3000.com
Cassel, Carnival Nord-Pas-de-Calais.
Berck sur Mer. International Kite flying festival. www.cerf-volant-berck.com
– Picardie. Bird Festival. A chance to discover the bird life and nature of the Somme Bay. www.festival-oiseau-nature.com
April/May – Calais. Every year. Foire de Calais. Each year the Foire de Calais settles along the western coast of the city for five days of activities and exhibitions. Over 25,000 people gather in Calais during this festive period.
Rand'Opale (first weekend). This is a long walk along the Opale coast. There are several different routes (eight, 15, 25 and 40km) to suit each person's endurance and inclination. The start and finish lines are in front of Frethun's town hall, five minutes away from Calais. www.randopale.com
Foire de Calais (annual fair). Usually the first week in May.
Lille. Every year. Lille Festival of Flavours. Visitors can enjoy three days of culinary delights in the centre of Lille during the delicious Festival of Flavours. Local producers offer tastings in confectionery, cheese, beer, coffee and much more.
Lille. Every year. The Golden Ladle. That most soothing of foods, soup, is celebrated at La Louche d'Or in the Wazemmes quarter of Lille, with an annual festival.
All over France (Every year) – Printemps des Musées. French museums open for free for one day in spring, offering a chance to whizz round the country's finest temporary and permanent collections.
Samer Strawberry festival. www.ville-samer.fr
Lille. Every year. Giants of Lille. Once a year in June, the people of Lille come out to see the city's streets overrun with huge giants (géants), performers, comedians, singers and musicians. Every street, park and communal area hosts some sort of entertainment. www.terre-de-geants.fr
– Fêtes de Musique, is a series of events all over France around the theme of music. Many events are free, and most communities seem to participate in some way or other. www.fetedelamusique.culture.fr
Terres en Fêtes is an agricultural show for the North of France, held in Arras each year. From the press release; "If you are a gourmet, there will be another chance to sample or discover the traditional products of the region, in particular those under the "Saveurs en' Or" and "Saveurs de Picardie" trademarks. Pie dishes, leek cake, Maroilles cheese tarts and Flemish sugar tarts, waffles . . . authentic flavours that will make your day even more enjoyable!". www.terres-en-fete.com
Summer – Many coastal villages have processions followed by a grand local fete.
Côte d'Opale Festival (month-long). Boulogne – Napoleon Celebrations.
Douai. Every year on the Sunday after 5 July. Parade of the Giants of Douai. The people of Douai parade through the streets wielding giant effigies of folk characters in this annual celebration of folklore and heritage, the Gayant, (local patois meaning "giant") festival.
Arras. Every year. Parade of the Giants. As in other large towns in the Nord-Pas de Calais region, Arras welcomes its friendly giants to town on Bastille Day. Every 14 July, Colas (papa), Jacqueline (mama) and Dédé (baby) take to the streets to tower over the puny citizens who come out to watch.
Lille. Every year. Festival des 10 Vagues. Summer comes to Lille in the shape of the Festival des 10 Vagues (10 Wave Festival) – a huge two-month event taking place throughout the city's eight districts.
Wimereux, Boulogne – Fête de la Moule Seafood Festival, Festival. Mussels.
July 14th – Bastille Day Celebrations. Every year Public celebrations don't come much grander than France's Bastille Day. Be prepared for spectacular fireworks and the belting out of La Marseillaise as the French celebrate 1789 and a swarm of revolting peasants. Major cities and rural towns alike congregrate for this huge annual commemoration.
Boulogne-sur-Mer. Fish Trail (Every 2 years, next one 2012. Boulogne has long been France's largest fishing port, and this intriguing event commemorates the Route du Poisson which horse-drawn carts and fishmongers used to travel along daily in order to take their fresh fish from Boulogne to Les Halles, the market in Paris. www.tourisme-boulognesurmer.com
Calais. An annual flea market takes place on the first weekend in August (Sunday and Monday).
Boulogne. Grand Procession.
Wimereux. Flobart Festival (flobart, a traditional fishing boat).
Le Touquet. International Classical and Jazz Festival (music themed events)
Andouille Festival – Aire-sur-la-Lys (1st weekend of September).
Arras. Every year. Windmill Festival. The Windmill Festival (Fête du Moulin) is a chance for the giants of Arras to make their second appearance of the year (the first is on 14 July, Bastille Day). The colourful giants, Colas (papa), Jacqueline (mama) and Dédé (baby) take to the streets, towering over the puny citizens who come out to watch.
Arleux, Nord / Pas de Calais. Every year. Garlic Fair. Arleux celebrates the pungent bulb with wining, dining and fun in the streets. After a weekend of parades, a flea market and a disco, the festival culminates in the election of the Garlic Queen, who reigns over Arleux for the year.
Auchan Wine fair, Calais, Bouolgne.
Boulogne. September (annual). La Maison Beuriere, a small museum located in the former seamen's district of Boulogne-sur-Mer, holds La Fete de la Beuriere. The two-day festival celebrates seagoing traditions with street performances and stalls.
Le Quesnoy, Pas de Calais. Milk Festival. Good breeding is to the fore at the Milk Festival in Le Quesnoy, be it in the bovine category or the female form. The event features over 150 cows of the local Bleue du Nord breed, as well as an election to find "Miss Protein" amid the young ladies present.
Lille. First weekend of September, every year, La Grande Braderie de Lille. For those who love to root around second-hand shops and fans of junk in general, this has to be heaven. In a tradition dating back to medieval times, the citizens of Lille set up shop on the street and flog their unwanted possessions – imagine a car-boot sale of epic proportions! Anyone can set up a stall.
Journées du Patrimoine. Every year (Heritage Days). Various towns. France's Heritage Days give visitors the chance to take a peep behind the doors of more than 14,000 buildings which are usually closed to the public. All over the country visitors queue for hours to catch a glimpse inside their politicians' homes, or to visit the seats of power. Many museums also open their doors for free. The theme for 2004 was science and technology.
Steenvoorde. Every year. Houblon (hops) Fair. The end of the houblon harvest is celebrated in the north of France and in the Flandre region of Belgium. Steenvorde hosts a fair with a parade, activities and tasting sessions of the local drink. The end of the houblon harvest is celebrated in the north of France and in the Flandre region of Belgium. Steenvorde hosts a fair with a parade, activities and tasting sessions of the local drink.
The houblon plant resembles hemp and nettle. Its yellow fruits are called cones and the lulupine, the yellow powder they are made of, is used as an aromatic natural preservative in the local tipple. La cervoise is an infusion of malt, wheat and barley brewed in monasteries during medieval times, especially enjoyed for its high level of alcohol.
Dunkirk Marathon (annual). www.marathon-dunkerque.com
Étaples, Boulogne. Every year. Fête du Hareng (Herring). Étaples celebrates the herring. Fishermen and cooks dressed in local costume serve the fish, available smoked or grilled. Packed with protein and goodness, they are extremely filling, so you'd do well to pace yourself. Tel: 0033 321 10 88 10.
Fetes de la Pommes (Potato). Gonnehem. Tel: 0033 321 54 60 70. www.cc-artois-lys.fr
Lille Christmas Market starts at the end of November every year and continues till after Xmas. www.noel-a-lille.com
Roubaix Braderie de l'Art. First weekend of December. Everything sold here has to be made from recycled materials.
Licques Turkey Festival – The Knights of the Order of the Turkey parade their produce through the village on the last Sunday before Xmas. www.licques-volailles.fr
Events in Boulogne; www.ville-boulogne-sur-mer.fr
Events in Dunkirk; www.ville-dunkerque.fr
Forthcoming events in NORD / Pas de Calais. www.viafrance.com