Top Events

Fête Le Fleuve, May

Traversée de Bordeaux à la Nage, June

Bordeaux Wine Festival, June

Bordeaux SO Good, November

Bordeaux Rock January

January

With New Year Festivities over, children return to school and the city buttons down the hatches for the coldest month of the year. With few tourists around, a wonderful serenity washes over the city.

Bordeaux Rock

Discover local talent at this five-day rock festival (www.bordeauxrock.com), designed to give a break to Bordelais artists. Internationally known bands and musicians head the line-up.

February

Crisp cold days and two weeks of French school holidays. In the Bordeaux vineyards, vignerons (winemakers) finish off the painstaking task of pruning their vines.

Carnival des 2 Rives

Mardi Gras (late February or early March; www.carnavaldesdeuxrives.fr) is celebrated with a traditional street parade, concerts, costume-making workshops and urban dance shows. Track down the carnival after-party on place Pey Berland.

March

Spring ushers in milder, China-blue sky days. There is a definite warmth in the sun, prompting alfresco-loving Bordelais to shed their winter coats and return to the city's many cafe pavement terraces.

Foire aux Plaisirs

A massive fun fair (http://foireauxplaisirs.com) has filled plane tree-shaded place des Quinconces each March since 1854, although today's giant big wheels, rollercoasters and other hair-raising rides are no doubt a far cry from those that entertained in the 19th century.

Bordeaux Marathon

Some 20,000 runners take part in the Marathon de Bordeaux (https://www.marathondebordeauxmetropole.com), a wonderful chance to admire the majors sights and monuments from an alternative perspective – as the setting sun turns the city pink to boot. The race starts at 8pm on place de la Bourse.

April

The plane trees on Esplanade des Quinconces come into leaf, covering the vast square and transport hub in a green canopy. In the vineyards, this is the time to plant new vines.

Foire de Printemps

Springtime is welcomed with an enormous flea market that sprawls across much of Esplanade des Quinconces for just over two weeks; watch for wine-tastings, music, concerts and other evening entertainment.

May

There is no lovelier time to explore the city. Local food markets burst with produce and newfound colour: baby carrots and asparagus, strawberries, pink rhubarb and raspberries. Alfresco evening dining is a given.

Fête Le Fleuve

Every two years (odd years) the city celebrates its river, the Garonne, during the annual Fête Le Fleuve (www.bordeaux-fete-le-fleuve.com) with open-air concerts, dancing, eating, drinking and general all-round merriment. It closes with fireworks.

Les Épicurales

One for foodies. For a fortnight in late May and early June, Allés de Tourny by the Triangle d'Or is transformed into a giant pop-up restaurant during Les Épicurales (www.epicuriales.com). Cookery lessons and demos by top chefs too.

La Nuit des Musées

Explore the city's museums after dark with The Night of Museums (https://nuitdesmusees.culturecommunication.gouv.fr), a country-wide fest when museums open until late.

June

Midsummer approaches and the temperature gauge rises. Barefoot frolics in the Miroir d'Eau on place de la Bourse are a weekend essential. Bordeaux's seasonal rooftop bars and riverside hangouts are by now in full swing.

Traversée de Bordeaux à la Nage

Much gaiety and fun accompanies this traditional mass swim (http://traverseedebordeaux.com) across the river: 500 intrepid swimmers dive into the River Garonne from the Left Bank and swim 1.7km to the Rive Droite (Right Bank). The first Traversée took place in 1939.

Bordeaux Wine Festival

The city celebrates its extraordinary wine tradition with the four-day Bordeaux Fête Le Vin (www.bordeaux-wine-festival.com). Tasting pavilions cover 80 appellations in Bordeaux and the Aquitaine region and there's bags of wine-related workshops and events.

July

School's out for the summer, tourists fill the city and the first vines flower. According to ancient folklore, grapes will be harvested 100 days later. Temperatures sizzle.

Festival International des Orgues

A stunning repertoire of organ concerts take to the stage at Cathédrale St-André during this summertime International Organ Festival (www.cathedra.fr) in July and August.

Festival Relâche

Itinerant, open-air music festival (https://relache.fr) bringing a series of concerts, musical soirées, DJ sets and other after-dark events to a variety of summetime venues each year.

Bastille Day

The entire country parties to celebrate the storming of the Bastille in Paris by revolutionaries on 14 July, 1789. What feels like the entire city gathers on place de la Bourse to ooh and aah at the traditional firework display.

August

Bordeaux empties as urbanites exchange the sweltering heat of the city for seaside capers or a breath of fresh mountain air. Grapes swell with sunshine and Bordeaux winemakers momentarily kick back and relax.

Scènes en Ville

Free live concerts by up-and-coming Bordelais pop stars on a summertime stage in front of the Hôtel de Ville (city hall).

September

Life resumes a clockwork routine as the tourist-crowd thins out. Early September is la rentrée ('back to school') and warm, mellow days cast the city in a beautiful light. By the end of the month the first grapes have been harvested.

Climax Festival

Darwin is the inevitable choice of venue for this eco-driven festival (http://climaxfestival.fr) that fuses fantastic live music with cultural events and skateboarding. Expect lectures on environmental and ecological issues, a line-up of international names (electro, hip hop, pop, indie) and some world-class performances by uber-cool boarders.

October

The vendange (grape harvest) is in full swing. With the changing of the clocks towards the end of the month, there's no denying winter around the corner.

Festival International des Arts

Art, theatre, dance and ballet takes to the stage at venues throughout the city during this three-week, international arts festival, better known as FAB (http://fab.festivalbordeaux.com).

Fête du Vin Nouveau et de la Brocante

Hot chestnuts roasted at street stalls and tastings of the year's first wine are highlights of this neighbourhood festival held on rue Notre Dame in the old wine-trading district of Chartrons. A flea market accompanies the epicurean treats.

November

The hard graft for Bordeaux winemakers moves inside to the cellar. Days shorten and there is distinct nip in the air.

Bordeaux SO Good

Bordeaux's annual Festival de la Gastronomie et de l'Art de Vivre (www.bordeauxsogood.fr) is a two-day event celebrating Bordeaux cuisine and epicurean culture: cooking classes, demonstrations, wine pairings, communal banquets and Michelin-starred chef encounters. A foodie must.

December

Days are short and one word is on the tip of everyone's tongues: Noël (Christmas) and its prerequisite feasting.

Marché de Noël

Huddle over a vin chaud (mulled wine) and browse stalls selling crafts by local artisans at Bordeaux's small Christmas Market on Allées de Tourny.

Bordeaux Tasting

Wine buffs swill, sniff, sip and spit Bordeaux grands vins in harmony at this two-day wine fair in Bordeaux's majestic Palais de la Bourse. Even if vin is not your cup of tea, this is the perfect op to discover one of Bordeaux's most beautiful buildings.