Visitors to the Champagne-Ardenne region of France can enjoy some spectacular events over the coming months. Just 150 km to the east of Paris, the region is easily reached by train or car from the capital. The following festivals are sure to add a little extra sparkle to your exploration of the region.
Green Music Festival, 20-23 August
The Cabaret Vert 'Green Music' festival in the Ardennes attracts over 94,000 visitors. This alternative 'rock-eco' festival takes place in the Ardennais town of Charleville-Mézières and is renowned for good food and beer and respect for the environment in addition to the great names in music from all over the world that perform here, such as Manu Chao (French/Spanish), Franz Ferdinand (Scottish), Charlie Winston (British), Skrillex and hip-hop group Public Enemy (both American).
World Festival of Puppet Theatre, 16-27 September
Charleville-Mézières is also the setting for the world's largest puppet festival every two years. Over 150,000 visitors and 100 of the world's top puppet performers converge on the town for 10 days of colourful and lively pageantry. Every available venue is transformed into a theatre and the shows embrace all forms of puppet art, often incorporating other art forms such as theatre, dance, plastic art and digital technology. In addition to the 'official programme', for which tickets can be booked online, an extensive range of street performances are open to all and free of charge.
International Festival of Nature and Wildlife Photography, 19-22 November
Inspired by the BBC Wildlife Magazine photo exhibition, this festival brings together a vast collection of the most extraordinary photographic works of nature and wildlife, attracting over 46,000 visitors to the small town of Montier-en-Der in the south of the Champagne region. Exhibitors include top names in nature photography from all over the world, and many of the photographers are on hand to speak to visitors. The festival is timed to coincide with the migration of birds from Scandinavia to Spain, which stop off en-route in their tens of thousands at the nearby Der Lake. Festival goers can enjoy a double bill with this amazing natural spectacle.
Epernay Christmas Festival, 11-13 December
While Australians are enjoying sizzling barbeques on the beach, the Champagne town of Epernay is sizzling with lights, fireworks and champagne as the 'Capital of Champagne' celebrates the opening of the Christmas season. Open-air champagne bars, musical events, street performances and illuminations all along the famous Avenue de Champagne attract over 45,000 visitors during the weekend. On the Saturday morning, the region's Michelin starred chefs team up with Champagne Houses to do open air cooking demonstrations of a dish to match the champagne which are then offered to the public to taste. The festival's grand finale on Sunday is in the form of a parade of several hundred classic cars