Avignon Festival

One of the largest performing arts festivals in the world
Start: 7 July 2022
End: 26 July 2022


Avignon, France

GPS: 43.949155272909, 4.8059571377263

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Avignon Festival, or Festival d’Avignon, is a famous contemporary performing arts festival held in the French town of Avignon, in southern France. As a summer event, it is held every year in July and is widely considered to be one of the greatest contemporary performing arts festivals in the world. The performances take place in multiple, mostly outdoor, locations around Avignon, most notably the Palais des papes (Palace of the Popes). This historical palace is among the biggest medieval Gothic buildings in Europe and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The rich architectural history that defines Avignon enables innovative performance venues to be created, which draw many tens of thousands of theatre enthusiasts to experience the emergent town-spanning outdoor theatre space.The creative explosion of arts and culture that is curated in the official festival is complemented by many unofficial shows which run in parallel to the main festival. This unofficial dimension is known as the “Off”, whereas the official line-up is known as the “In”. Combined these offer an astounding artistic selection for theatre and dance lovers.

The Avignon Festival originated when plays were held at the same time and venue as an art and sculpture exhibition, in the Pope’s Palace. The first Avignon festival, in September 1947, set a precedent for both previously unknown and modern plays. A key figure in, and founder of, the festival was Jean Vilar. This actor and director advocated a concept of “popular theatre” which, while drawing criticism from some, was the vision that led to the emergence of the modern Avignon Festival. The festival nonetheless maintained a relatively traditional approach to theatre itself in comparison to the radical conceptual disruptions of the 1960s. Jean Vilar directed the festival programme until he died in 1971, drawing in now famous directors, dancers, actors and actresses. Lovers of theatre, music and dance anticipate the festival which stages about 50 shows running approximately 300 performances every year, along with many more offerings from the independently organised “Off” festival.

La Chartreuse, originally a monastery, is now a centre of accommodation for artists. The french town of Avignon transforms in the summer to become a pulsing hub of contemporary and scenic theatre. As a global intersection of culture, influences from the world over are invited to showcase their work, these include performances from Japan, Taiwan, Iran and India. The dynamic “off” festival also showcases international acts. Cutting-edge creativity is accessible to a popular audience, who can also experience the living culture of the festival, discussing and exploring diverse experiences. The independence of the artistic direction for the festival’s programme helps ensure a lively and challenging space. Every evening a show is premiered, putting the realisation of the new at the heart of the Avignon Festival experience. Alongside the 300 performances on the official circuit, there are 400 mostly free events which include debates, discussion panels, workshops, exhibitions, readings and film screenings.

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  • The exuberant atmosphere of a town immersing itself in the performance arts
  • The diverse and majestic architecture innovatively adapted to create unique outdoor theatre spaces
  • The unbelievable choice of cutting-edge creative content on the official and unofficial programmes of Avignon Festival
  • The opportunity to experience the newest performing arts from all over the world
  • 80% of the performances at Avignon Festival are original or are premiering in France.
  • More than 20 locations throughout Avignon are transformed into unforgettable performing arts venues.
  • The concurrent “Off” festival, organised separately and independently to the official “In” programme, comprises more than 1000 self-funded cultural and artistic companies in about 100 additional venues.
  • 80,000 copies of the Avignon Festival programme are printed each year.
  • The economic benefit to the local region of these 3 weeks of festivities is estimated to be approximately €100 million.
  • In an effort to increase the accessibility of the Avignon Festival, the cost of entry has been reduced for participants under 26 years old and job seekers.
  • Accommodation in Avignon is at a premium during the festival, especially around the 14th July which is Bastille day in France, so be sure to book well ahead of time.
  • Barthelasse island, in the middle of the Rhône River, has several campsites which are perfect for summer in Southern France.
  • Accommodation is also available at Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, a town of 12,000 inhabitants which is a short bus trip from Avignon.
  • A large portion of the walled inner area in Avignon is pedestrianised during the festival, and there is a clamp-down on illegal parking which incurs heavy fines.