Starting in the second week in July, the three-week Festival d’Avignon focuses especially on theatre, while also featuring classical music, dance, lectures and exhibitions. The city’s great buildings make a spectacular backdrop to performances, while its streets throng with bright-eyed performers promoting their shows. Everywhere stays open late, and everything from accommodation to obscure fringe events gets booked up very quickly; doing anything normal becomes virtually impossible.
Founded in 1947 by actor-director Jean Vilar, the festival hosts theatre companies from across Europe. While big-name directors draw the largest crowds to the main venue, the Cour d’Honneur in the Palais des Papes, lesser-known troupes and directors also stage new works, and the festival spotlights a different culture each year.
The main festival programme is usually available from the second week in May; tickets go on sale around mid-June. The fringe Festival Off adds an additional element of craziness and magic, with innovative, obscure and bizarre performances in more than a hundred venues. A Carte Public Adhérent available online for €16, gives thirty percent off all shows.