The Fiddler’s Festival or the Pfifferdaj is one of the most entertaining, weird, and downright offbeat things to do in France each September! Attending this festival in Ribeauvillé, France is a must!
What is the Pfifferdaj or Fiddler’s Fest?
In the heart of the beautiful Alsace region of France is one of my favorite festivals! The Pfifferdaj, held on the first Sunday of September each year, has it all: medieval costumes and products, Alsacien food, a fantastic parade, wine and beer from around the region, and fun galore. It all happens on one fun-filled day.
We start off in the morning, walking down the hill to the center of town through the floats and costumed people getting their hair down and their makeup on. Many of them, already having tucked into a good wine, are further fortifying their bodies with food. It will be a few hours before they are able to relax.There is a medieval market where you can purchase handmade products, and the townsmen are in a walled square eating a full on medieval meal of chicken and stew.
Everyone is in costume and character. They love having their photos taken, and everyone is in the highest of spirits.The jester announces the king. The king raises his goblet, and all take part in the feast before the big event.The big event is, of course, the parade. Each year a different theme is followed, and each group interprets the medieval theme in a unique manner.
The elaborately decorated floats go in order of the story. There is a marriage, many battles, and even some aliens(?). It’s all very fun and all very strange. The participants, ranging in ages from two through seventy-two are all well practiced in not smiling if their character is supposed to be fierce or morose. They stay in character the entire time, often involving the audience in their battles or shenanigans.
The costumes are amazing! Whether the character is sinister, sloppy, comedic, or just beautiful each participant carries it off like they were born to it. We ran into a young lady who is not in the ten kilometer ring of normal participants. She is in it thanks to her boyfriend who lives nearby. She was a deer-woman with some cumbersome antlers to carry around on her head, and her boyfriend was a bear hunter. This is only her second parade, but her boyfriend had been in it for years. The locals are literally born into these roles!
After the parade is over, it ends at one of the many town fountains that becomes a wine fountain. People clamor to try the delicious fare and the party lasts well into the night.
Ribeauvillé is just good ol’ fun! Everyone has a great time, the planners, the vendors, the participants, and of course everyone else! It’s just a blast! If you happen to be in the Alsace region of France at the beginning of September, don’t miss it. You’ll be missing one of the best parties of your life!
Tips for Attending the Fiddler’s Fest
- The hotels book up very early in the year in the town of Ribeauvillé, so if you plan on having a really good time (drinking that great wine) book early. However, we’ve decided to go at the last minute and always found hotels open in nearby towns. It just means you’ll have to drive. That is unless you don’t mind camping. At the end of the parade route, there is a camping ground which costs just a few Euros per tent. It’s cheap and only a few minutes walk from town, so a great way to go.
- There is a fee of 8 Euros so have your change ready. Also remember to get stamped if you are going to leave the middle of town at any time and want to return to the festivities.
- The main event is a parade, but don’t forget to check out the other things in town like the Medieval Crafts Fair. It’s all good!
- For more information you can go to this website.
What festivals have you enjoyed throughout your travels? Are there any that call you back year after year? Please tell us about them…it’s what we live for….!
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