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Avignon Festival

Last updated: 09 March, 2024

Founded in 1947 by theatre director Jean Vilar, this festival was France’s answer to the UK’s Edinburgh Festival. It’s since evolved into a mass celebration of drama, music and dance, concentrating on edgy and avant-garde performances and companies from around Europe.

Nowadays, nearly a thousand shows and exhibitions take place over three weeks in July, both in Avignon and across the river in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. The Off Festival, a completely independent fringe event, runs alongside, attracting 1,000+ independent companies.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 13+
Frequency: annually
When: July
Duration: 3 weeks

Getting there & doing it

Events take place in 24 venues across Avignon. A downloadable map is available on the festival website – but the main events take place in the Cour d’Honneur (courtyard) of the Popes’ Palace.

Final programmes are released in May – from then tickets may be purchased online, or over the phone, or at FNAC outlets, as well as at the festival’s main ticket office at 20 Rue du Portail Boquier. For Off Festival information, check its own separate website.

The main performances have ticketed seating; for others, it’s a good idea to arrive early – especially if they’re free. Book the better restaurants well in advance during the festival to avoid disappointment. Or head to the festival’s main hub, Place de l’Horloge, with its cafés, restaurants and non-stop street performances.

During the festival, parking is at a premium; only drive into Avignon’s centre if you have a garage space booked. The city puts on extra buses.

When to do it

The festival takes place during the last three weeks of July.