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Beziers' Feria: Best festivals in Languedoc, France
Without doubt Beziers' Feria, is the greatest festival in the Languedoc in Southern France. During 5 days in mid-August, Beziers comes alive in spectacular fashion with fireworks, street entertainment and a daily Spanish corrida. There is also an important wine festival in Beziers at the same time as the Feria. The 2024 Feria de Beziers will be held on 14-18 August 2024. So if you are in Languedoc in August and you want to experience a great Languedoc festival, then the Beziers Ferias is an absolute must.
The history of the Beziers dates back to 1897, when the city built the Arenes, an amphitheatre dedicated to bullfighting. Beziers held annual bullfights and small festivals every summer, up until the 1950s, attracting some of the most famous matadors from Spain and France. In 1968, the first official Beziers Feria was held in 1968.
Whilst bullfighting is still an important aspect of Beziers Feria, it is not the only part. Most people are attending the festival for the food, the wine, the music and the party atmosphere. Over the years, I have received some pretty strong objections from animal welfare supporters, just because I have written about Beziers Feria. I have never attended a bullfight in my life and never would. But to say that by featuring an article on one of the biggest festivals in Southern France, attended by over a million people each year, is in some way condoning bullfighting, I think is way off the mark.
You cannot understand the tradition of the Beziers Feria without acknowledging that it was primarily a bullfighting festival. The festival was (and still is) a celebration of Catalan and Spanish culture, driven by the large diaspora of Spanish families living in Southern France. The challenge for the organisers is that whilst they may want to develop the non-bullfighting aspects of the festival, they cannot ignore the fact that the penultimate bullfight in 2023, was attended by a sell-out crowd of 30,000 people.
We are going to Beziers Feria this summer. I acknowledge that bullfighting is going to take place, but that is not the reason why I am going. It is basically the biggest party in the South of France, right on our doorstep. Even if they banned the bullfighting (like they have done in Barcelona and Catalonia, Spain), the Feria would still be a festival with a history and tradition of bullfighting. That will not change. I think my point is that you don't have to like bullfighting to go to the Feria and by attending the Feria, you are not supporting bullfighting.
Beziers Feria festival
Beziers Feria is usually held around the 14-15 of August and takes place over 5 days. During the 1980s and 1990s, the Feria in Beziers developed a bit of a reputation as a hard-drinking event, often accompanied by a lot of punch-ups and trouble. But over the last 8-10 years, efforts have been made to make the Feria more of a family event and not a big piss-up. The all day drinking does still go on, but things tend to be a bit better behaved.
The 2023 Beziers Feria was attended by 1.2 million people, a 25% increase on the previous year. This makes Beziers feria one of the biggest festivals in the South of France. In comparison, Bayonne's 5 day Fêtes de Bayonne festival attracted 1.3 million people and Nimes' Fête de Pentecost was attended by 1.1 million people.
[SOURCE: France Bleu]
I was once told by a French friend of mine, that every year the authorities deliver over €15 million euros in cash to Beziers during the Feria, just to fill up the cash machines. I suppose nowadays everything is cashless, so they may not need to go to these lengths, but it just goes to show you what big business the Feria brings to Beziers.
The one pleasing result of the 2023 Feria, was that there were only 140 'incidents' (ie, punch ups or drunk & disorderly offences). What made me laugh though, was that the Mayor of Beziers was quoted as saying:
". . . 140 is as many as we used to get in a single day 15 years ago . . . "
I don't know if he is celebrating the fact that youngsters in Beziers can now hold their drink or telling us what a danger zone the Feria used to be.
Beziers' Feria is held at events all across the city, but the main party action tends to be around Allées Paul Riquet, the central Boulevard in Beziers and in many Bodegas (pop-up bars) across the historic centre, such as Place Jean Jaurès and Place du Forum.
In the evening during the festival, around the bodegas there are throngs of people enjoying the live music and entertainment, covering everything from Flamenco dancing to French Rap. The revellers are often dressed all in white, with red neckerchiefs. Pastis, is definitely the go-to drink during the day time, but there is also a wine festival that takes place during the Feria. So you can get to sample some really excellent wines from the Beziers area.
The Feria tends to really get going around 10.00pm and continues well into the early hours of the morning (although most of the Bodegas and Bars will shut around 1.00am.
Best festivals in Languedoc, France
The 2024 Feria in Beziers will be held from 14-18 August 2024. The full program for the 5 day festival is still being developed and hopefully the full details will be released soon. Visit the festival website for more details (Beziers Feria website) or visit the Beziers tourism website for more details about what to do and see in Beziers).
If you are in Languedoc at other times of the year check out our guide to the Best Festivals in South France.
Where to next . . .?
If you are planning a trip to the South of France in 2024, then Beziers is an excellent location. Beziers has its own airport and Ryanair runs cheap flights to Beziers from Sweden, Belgium, the UK & Ireland. Beziers also has some excellent beaches nearby and the accommodation is considerably cheaper than Cote d'Azur. The restaurant scene in Beziers is also going through a renaissance, with 3 of the best Chefs in the Languedoc running restaurants in the city. Beziers has some excellent restaurants, but you also shouldn't miss out on one of the biggest festivals in the South of France (Beziers' Feria), some fantastic local vineyards and the beautiful countryside nearby. Beziers is reputedly, the oldest town in France and the historic centre is a joy to walk around. From a tourism perspective, Beziers has plenty to see and do.
If you are planning a trip to Beziers or the Languedoc in 2024, then the following articles are a good source of local information:
The Languedoc has some of the best beaches in South France and the beaches close to Beziers are particularly popular. Discover the 4 best beaches near to Beziers to visit during your stay.
We have highlighted some of the best villas and apartments to rent in and around Beziers, South France. With a local airport providing cheap flights, Beziers is an excellent destination for a holiday in 2024.
Discover everything that Beziers has to offer. This Southern French town has an amazing history stretching back over 2,000 years and is one of the liveliest towns to visit in South France during the summer.
Discover some of the best restaurants to eat at whilst you are visiting Beziers. The city has 3 of the most celebrated Chefs in the Languedoc and has an excellent range of eateries.
Check out the 2024 summer schedule of flights to Beziers airport Ryanair flies to Beziers from 9 destinations across Europe and provides some of the cheapest flights to the South of France.
Go Languedoc provides high quality holiday accommodation across the South of France. Check out these 10 stunning villas & gites to rent for a beach holiday in the South of France in 2024.