Top Theatre Festivals for Play Enthusiasts in France


France is not only known and popular for its food, fashion, and cultural offerings. Fans of theatre, plays, and other dramatic arts will be pleased to know that several theatre festivals are worth attending and participating in while visiting France. These festivals are held annually in the various cities across France.

Festival d’Avignon

Every summer in July, the city of Avignon holds an annual arts festival. The different events are set in the courtyard of Palais des Papes and other notable locations around the city. Jean Vilar founded it in 1947, and since then the Festival d’Avignon has grown to be the oldest existing festival in France and recognized as one of the best worldwide. In 2008, the festival had a record-breaking number of 950 shows performed in the span of three weeks. The festival has two varieties that are both organized by non-profit organizations since 1980. The first is the “In” festival which is held in the honors courtyard of the Palais des Papes, the residence of the Avignon papacy in the 14th century. The “Off” festival is arranged mainly by theatre companies that perform their plays in theatre schools, the streets and other fitting locations.

Avignon city

Nuits de Fourvière

The Nights of Fourviere in Lyon, France is a festival held in June, July or August, the summer months of the year. The festival is composed of various performances and presentations in theatre, music, circus, and film. The Nights of Fourviere has happened ever since the summer of 1946. The venue has always been the same as well; at the Théâtre antique de Fourvière. Later the adaptation was also featured at Odéon de Lyon since 1952. The fest was at first organised by Charbonnières-les-Bains – a casino and afterward by the Rhone department in the 1990s. At present, it is organized by the Grand Lyon. Some highly anticipated shows in June of 2019 include an adaptation of the Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, Pure Dance by Natalia Osipova, and Requiem Mozart which showcases dancing and the music of the well-known choir, Accentus and the Insula orchestra.

Lyon at night

Festival de Marseille

 A festival of dance and various arts, the Festival de Marseilles has celebrated film, theatre, music, and dance since 1996. It is held in the city of Marseilles every year in the summer months of June and July. The performances make use of multiple venues around the city – from the northern neighborhoods, the Old Port and up to the Panier at the courtyard of the Vieille Charité.The main performances in Festival de Marseilles consist mainly of several dances, is held in the Henri-Fabre Park on the Avenue du Prado which houses the national ballet of Marseilles. While cine-concerts choose their venue at the amphitheater of Sucrière in Parc François Billoux, the theatre of La Criée hosts the theatrical performances at the same location. 

International Street Theater Festival of Aurillac

Created by Michael Crespin in 1986, the International Street Theater Festival of Aurillac takes place every year in the last weeks of August. The festival, now recognized on a national and international scale, prides itself as an avenue to express enchantment and discovery in every street, corner, and the square of the city.

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