The Dordogne plays host to a huge variety of festivals throughout the year. There are festivals to celebrate all manner of things; dance, food, mime, music, and wine (to name but a few).
Time your visit right and you could be tasting incredible truffles, listening to fabulous music or smelling amazing flowers – all courtesy of one of the Dordogne’s many festivals.
Dordogne festivals – Sarlat
But where to start in our Dordogne festivals quest? For us, it has to be in the beautiful medieval city of Sarlat. Towards the end of January, you can enjoy a truffle festival which celebrates the ‘black diamonds‘ of Périgord. La Fête de la Truffe is free to attend (but you may find yourself splashing out a few Euros to buy this pricey delicacy). There are workshops designed to help you buy the perfect specimen.
Sticking with Sarlat and the theme of food, the Fest d’Oie is usually held at the beginning of March. This festival celebrates the goose. Watch gaggles of geese waddle around the streets and taste chef’s wares from a variety of stalls. There are also workshops, demonstrations, games and traditional music to enjoy.
La Ringueta takes place on Whit Sunday, (only in even-numbered years) so it could occur in March, April or May. The venue is Sarlat and the festival is all about traditional games of the past. You could try out over two dozen games of yesteryear! (or just eat great food and watch others make fools of themselves…).
Dordogne festivals in April & May
Think of French cuisine and the snail probably springs to mind. If you love munching escargots then be sure to visit Bertric Burée during the first weekend in May. Thousands of snails are cooked in colossal vats at this festival. There is also a market, a funfair and plenty of liquid refreshment available.
If jazz is your thing, then be in Bergerac in May for Jazz Poupre. Historically, this has been staged in the cellar of a wine grower!
The second Sunday in May is the date for the Fête de la Fraise which takes place in the medieval town of Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne. The town is situated on the River Dordogne, a few kilometres south of the unofficial ‘Jam capital’ of Europe. The festival celebrates the fruit harvest and involves eating lots of strawberries. Lovely!
Mid May is the time for Les Floralies at Saint-Jean-de-Cole. This flower festival attracts people from all over the world. Over 100 exhibitors display their wares and much of this pretty village is covered in flowers. Discover new varieties and rare species at this long-standing Dordogne festival.
Fête de la Musique takes place on 21 June. This event is huge – in 2017, there were 18,000 events around France! All the concerts are free.
Dordogne festivals in July & August
We can’t write about celebrations in July without mentioning Bastille Day on 14 July. Parties and parades take place all over France to celebrate the turning point in the French Revolution.
Visit the medieval village of Saint Cyprien on the first Sunday in July and you can celebrate popular local culture at the Félibrée. This was established in 1903 to safeguard the Occitan language and culture.
The Souillac Jazz Festival takes place in July. This is staged over a week and attracts some of the biggest names in European jazz.
An alternative option is the Périgueux New Orleans Music Festival. This usually takes place in August. Here, you can enjoy Blues, gospel and jazz in different areas of the city.
If the thought of all that music is giving you a headache, then how about the Mime Festival in Périgueux? This has been running for 35 years and is now one of the biggest Mime events in Europe. It usually takes place towards the end of July. There are workshops, films, shows, conferences and open air performances. Some shows are free. Just remember to keep the noise down…
Just a short distance from the Lascaux caves is the Festival de Montignac. Musicians from all over the world attend this dance and music festival. In 2019, the event is scheduled to take place from 29 July – 4 August. There is an admission charge.
During mid July and early August, Sarlat hosts the Theatre Games Festival. Take in an open air performance at one of four different venues around the town. There is something for everyone to enjoy with classical and contemporary performances of dance, music and theatre (prices vary from piece to piece). The festival is one of the most important theatrical events in France.
L’assiette de Cyrano – Cyrano de Bergerac gives his name to this August wine and food festival. It takes place in Bergerac’s town centre. Alongside the sustenance there are free shows to enjoy.
Nontron (capital of the Perigord Vert) hosts its annual Knife Festival around the first weekend in August. The event brings together artisans and collectors from across Europe.
In late August, you can enjoy 5 days of Baroque and Renaissance music in various venues in Périgueux. Listen in style in a stately chateau or abbey – it’s all part of the Sinfonia en Perigord.
The Festival du Périgord Noir is a classical music festival that continues from July all the way through to October in the Perigord Noir region of the Dordogne. This festival features around 40 concerts in 20 different venues (some indoor, others outside).
In Saint-Cyprien, ‘La Force des Terriors’ festival gets underway on a Friday evening in mid September and goes on throughout the weekend.
In the UK, people often only really think about turkeys in the run up to Christmas. However, visit the village of Varaignes on 11 November and you’ll find the locals celebrating the Feast of Saint Martin with a fantastic Turkey Fair. This tradition stretches back to the 16th century. Turkeys are paraded through the village, locals get on stage to give their best turkey impersonation and there is a turkey banquet. The fair is free but you have to pay to attend the banquet.
Sticking with November, Salon International du Livre Gourmand is a celebration of food and books. It takes place every two years (in odd years) in the city of Perigueux. Enjoy artwork, workshops, cookery demonstrations and much more.
Towards the end of the year you can get in the Christmas spirit by visiting one of the numerous Christmas markets that take place in many of the villages. The one at Sarlat usually has an ice rink and lovely wooden chalets.
Whenever you decide to visit the Dordogne, you will probably find a festival in full swing.