Just a short hop across the Channel, the newly formed region of Hauts-de-France has plenty to keep you entertained. Here is our pick of events for this spring and summer.
Les Recontres Internationales de Cerfs-Volants
The strong winds that often blow along the Cote d’Opale mean that kite flying is a popular pursuit in this corner of France. For the past 25 years, the seaside town of Berck-sur-Mer has organized a festival that brings together almost 700000 kite-flyers and spectators from around the world. The event, from 1-9 April, is open to everyone, with kite-making classes for children and kite-flying lessons for grown-ups.
Participants let their imagination run riot as kites of every description, from flying fish to imaginary monsters, take to the skies.
Festival de l’oiseau et de la nature
Spring is a wonderful time to get back to nature and where better than at this festival in the Baie de la Somme. From 8-17 April, wildlife enthusiasts can learn all about the natural environment; guided visits take place on horseback, in a carriage, kayak or boat, providing visitors with the opportunity to spot an eclectic range of birds and possibly even seals across the bay. The event also features screenings of nature documentaries, educational workshops and photography exhibitions.
Les Fetes du Bouffon
Jokes run wild in the town of Saint-Quentin, during this festival on 2-4 June. The Celebrations are inspired by the different artistic representations of jesters found on the façade and interior of the town hall, and include music, dancing, themed meals and parades. The opening day is dedicated to youngsters, with a parade of up to 1000 children in fancy dress. On the second day, an international spectacular featuring between 250 and 300 musicians takes place on Place de l’Hotel de Ville. Other highlights include a procession and night-time carnival, the serving of a traditional jesters’s vegetable soup and a firework display.
La Fete des Roses
The Plus Beau Village of Gerberoy in the Oise department is an enchanting mix of half-timbered houses and colorful gardens, and has two claims to fame: it was the home of Post-Impressionist painter Henri le Sidaner, and it has staged an annual rose festival since 1928. The event, being held on 4 June, sees the sleepy village covered from head-to-toe in the fragrant flower, with stalls spilling into the streets, and garden visits being led by residents. Folk dancing, singing and a climactic firework display all add to the entertainment.