The Bizarre and Incredible Fiddler’s Festival in Ribeauville

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, one of the most beautiful cities in 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.

Ribeauville, France hosts a medieval festival and parade, which is fun for the whole family.
At the Pfifferdaj, the costumes are amazing!

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.

The parade is full of medieval sights, like this little girl riding her pony.
All ages are involved in the Fiddler’s parade in Ribeauville.

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.

There is an entire section of town dedicated to the medieval players who are also in the parade.
The Ribeauville medieval fest complete with jester. Everyone really gets into character.

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.

One of the many floats in the Fiddler's Fest parade.
Don’t miss the Sunday parade every year in Ribeaville, France.

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.

Lots of groups accompany the floats, and everyone is in character.
It looks like a scene from Game of Thrones!

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.

The Ribeauville parade is colorful and has really elaborate costumes.
Not only are there beautiful costumes and make-up, but the dancers put on amazing shows as they parade through this quaint Alsatian town.

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!

Yet another amazing group all in black and white.
Good and Evil, black and white. It’s all amazing!

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.

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.

The characters really love their experience and want to share it with the tourists.
The Ribeauville locals are involved year after year, and they seem to really love posing and getting their photos taken.

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.

Scary blue face on one of the floats.
More artistry and construction wonders at the Fiddler’s Fest in France.

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.

  1. 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!
  2. For more information you can go to this website.

Conclusion

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!

A closeup of a girl's face who is in the parade.
The Colors!

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….!

Pin The Fiddler’s Fest in Ribeauvillé for later!

If you are in France in September, go to the Fiddler's Fest in Ribeauville.
Costumed players made the Ribeauville Fiddler's Fest parade the best it can be.

33 thoughts on “The Bizarre and Incredible Fiddler’s Festival in Ribeauville”

  1. Heather Latondresse

    Just by fluke, on our month long ramble around eastern France in early September of 2000 we ended up in Ribeauville and found a room right on the main plaza in the centre of town. There had been a late cancellation and the hotel manager said we must make a decision immediately and must stay for 3 nights as our car would be parked in! We went for it. What an experience! Having breakfast in the hotel we overlooked the fountain and a florist was in the process of placing barrels of wine under the fountain, running tubes from them up and along the water spouts, covering the fountain bowl with netting and placing a beautiful arrangement of flowers over the whole thing. The spouts were covered with vines.
    We managed to get seats in the bleachers and the parade took 3 hours to pass any one spot. Being the millennial year the theme was the history of France from the dark ages, through the middle ages, the French revolution, and eventually to the future! All floats were made by the villagers and these floats put any North American parade to shame!
    At the end of the parade the town fountain was opened up for free glasses of wine, and I must say I had more than my share!
    On another trip with some friends in the fall of 2012 I prepared our itinerary and made sure we ended up staying in Ribeauville, with enough time to explore the surrounding towns on the wine route and experience the preparations for the parade as well as the actual parade itself. Different theme every year but just as well done. I’d go back another time too!

  2. France has SO much to offer. I feel guilty that I spent all of my French vacation in Paris and disneyland :( Too bad as I had over 2 weeks and could’ve seen other lovely parts. Ribeauvillé looks sooooo pretty. I love offbeat small towns and imagine seeing GOT attire on streets? so cool!

  3. I’ve not explored this area of France much, but I love the idea of visiting Ribeauville at the time of the festival. Love all the costumes! Good tip to secure hotel accommodation far in advance.

  4. I have been to any number of Renaissance Fairs in America but this is definitely on the bucket list now. I love the costumes and the fact it’s actually in a French town. So cool and beautiful photography.

  5. That looks like great fun Corinne. I was in the Alsace region in December and something like this adds more reason for me to return one day.
    We were in Thailand for the Songkran festival, like their New Year and celebrated with lots of water and coloured flour. It was a lot different from your festival but a wonderful experience all the same.

  6. Excellent tips, Corinne! Thanks for letting me know about this festival. It sounds like so much fun. I would love to own and wear a medieval costume, but we don’t have any carnivals here, where I live. It’s amazing to me how people in these European towns find all kind of ways to entertain themselves. The only comparable thing to this festival would be the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans. That one is a lot of fun also.

  7. This sounds RAD. I love a festival or parade that only lasts one day because it doesn’t spread out the energy, and everyone gets to be together the whole time! Beautiful pictures and descriptions, what an incredible event!

  8. Phoebe @ Lou Messugo

    I’ve never heard of this festival Corinne but it looks a blast! Crazy costumes and an even crazier name! Unfortunately early September is always la rentrée (you can read plenty of posts about it in the link-up!) which means for the near future I’m unlikely to be able to get to this festival, (unless we move to Alsace or nearby) but one day I’d love to go.

      1. Phoebe | Lou Messugo

        Thanks for linking this to #AllAboutFrance Corinne, good to have you back and good to see these fabulous photos again.

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