The Paris calendar is packed with free events. Concerts, festivals, outdoor film screenings and a host of other events liven up the city’s cultural programme all year round. Several of these events have become fixtures on the calendar and are open to all, free of cost.
Let’s start the year in a spectacular way! To celebrate New Year's Eve, the Avenue des Champs Elysées, which is entirely pedestrianised, offers numerous activities for the enjoyment of young and old alike.
If you’re a classic car fan, don’t miss the Traversée de Paris. This colourful parade of beautiful collector vehicles through the streets of the French capital takes place in early January.
Every year between end-January and mid-February, Paris’s Chinese community celebrates the Chinese New Year with colourful processions and a range of events.
More info on Chinese New Year in Paris
Also in fancy dress, the traditional Carnaval de Paris takes place in February. The processions winds its way through the heart of the 20th arrondissement to finish at République. Get out your carnival masks!
During the last week of March, the international festival of documentary films ‘Cinema du Réel’ takes place at many venues in the capital. Some sessions are free. Pick up a programme!
In April, the focus is on French arts & crafts with the Journées Européennes des Métiers d’Art. For contemporary art, head to the trade show at Montrouge which puts the spotlight on the new generation of artists working in various art disciplines: painting, photography, sculpture, video …
Starting in April and all the way to December, kiosks in Paris host many different events as part of the Kiosques en Fête initiative – everything from music and dance to plays, talks and sport.
May is the month of the European Night of Museums, when hundreds of museums and cultural venues stay open late. Visitors can admire the permanent collections in a different light, and enjoy performances and installations specially created for the event.
More info on European Night of Museums
Le Printemps des rues, a festival devoted to street entertainment, also returns in May each year to north-eastern Paris. It is a great opportunity to enjoy free circus arts, dance and theatre performances.
Music fans too have plenty to look forward to in May. During the Tous à l'opéra ! event, some venues host free events, open to one and all, for an entire weekend: concerts, opera karaoke, backstage tours, etc.
If you’re into electronic music, the Villette Sonique festival is a must-see. There are a number of free events alongside the concerts for which you need a paid ticket.
Summer is, of course, the perfect season for outings, and Paris offers a packed events calendar. On 21June, both amateur and professional musicians take over the city’s streets and public spaces during the Fête de la musique. There are also several concerts in every district of the city in the evening. Also for this occasion, the Festival 36h de Saint-Eustache offers 36 hours of non-stop music – pop, rock and electro – in this Parisian church on 20 and 21 June!
More information on the Fête de la musique
In June, the Nuit blanche event is eagerly awaited by art and culture enthusiasts. On this ‘sleepless night’, dozens of works by contemporary artists are displayed in unusual spots such as churches, museums, the Seine quaysides and the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin.
More info on the Nuit blanche
Futur en Seine, a festival for digital innovation and creation, is held in June each year. It comprises events, exhibitions and workshops, with free entry for trade visitors as well as the general public. If you want to enjoy some fresh air and greenery, don’t miss Rendez-vous aux jardins. During this three-day event, many green spaces in Paris organize free activities and visits.
And, for French-speaking poetry lovers, June is the month of the Marché de la poésie, held in Place Saint-Sulpice in the 6th arrondissement.
More information on what to do in the open air in our dossier Paris outdoors
On 14 July, the legendary fireworks display to mark Bastille Day is set off from the ponds at Trocadéro. The festivities get underway at 11pm.
More info about Bastille Day in our dossier Bastille Day in Paris
From mid-July to end-August, artificial beaches are installed on the banks of the Seine and the Bassin de la the Villette during Paris Plages. Sun loungers, palm trees, refreshment kiosks … and swimming set the scene for summer! A number of entertainment options and sporting activities are available too.
Summer is also the perfect time to see open-air movies on giant screens in the gardens of the Villette during the Cinéma en plein air festival. Paris also hosts other outdoor cinema festivals: La Chaise et l’écran, Silhouette ...
More info about Movies outdoors in Paris
The music festival Les Pestacles is held each year in the Parc Floral at the Bois de Vincennes. The concerts are free, but the park charges an entrance fee. Some of the concerts and shows at the Paris l'été festival festival are also free of charge.
More info about Outdoor festivals in Paris
At the end of August-beginning of September, we find the summer edition of the Traversée de Paris.
The European Heritage Days take place on the third weekend of September: an opportunity to explore museums, private mansions, ministries and even the gardens of the Élysée without spending a cent!
More info on the European Heritage Days
In end-September, some of the most secret gardens in France are open to visitors during the Fête des jardins. The event provides a chance to take part in specially-organized activities such as guided tours, gardening workshops, games, concerts and walks.
And if you’re scientifically minded, don’t miss the Fête de la science. Created in 1991, the fête aims to create closer links between the scientific community and the general public through a range of free events.
October also marks the yearly and very popular Fête des vendanges de Montmartre. The programme of events includes parades, concerts, exhibitions and tasting sessions, all of it in a convivial atmosphere.
In Paris, November marks the start of the Christmas season. Chic districts like the Place Vendôme, the Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Avenue Montaigne and the Avenue des Champs-Elysées are decorated with illuminations. Department store windows vie with one another to offer the most magical winter scenes, and some Christmas markets begin to open.
More info on the festive season in our dossier Christmas and New Year in Paris
In December, the traditional skating rink is installed on the square in front of the Hôtel de Ville (Paris City Hall). Anyone can use the rink for free. If you don’t have your own skates, you can hire a pair for 6 euros.
All year round, art lovers can take free tours of artists’ studios in the districts of Belleville, Ménilmontant and Père-Lachaise, and along the Viaduc des Arts.