Travel Notes blog
Corsica events and festivals
by Max Lane
6 min read

Corsica events and festivals

Corsica events and festivals
There's always something going on in Corsica and you'll be more than welcome, so find out about its events and festivals before you travel to your villa.
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Corsica is steeped in ancient traditions and the islanders are rightly proud of their cultural, gastronomic and historic heritage. Find out more below.

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Festivals and events in Corsica

Each year hundreds of festivals and events are organized to honour and celebrate the island's rich heritage. From cheese to polyphonic choral music, there's something for all tastes throughout the year. Here are a few of our favourites: 

The Fiera di U Casgiu

An annual event held in May in Venaco (in the central mountains of Corsica) celebrating the island’s cheese-making tradition.

Jazz Festival

An annual festival showcasing the talents of French and international jazzers in Ajaccio that takes place at the end of June.

Fête de la Musique

A French national music festival taking place around 21st June each year. Corsican musicians are keen participants and there are concerts across the island.

Les Nuits de la Guitare

For over 20 years, the town of Patrimonio (near Bastia) has held an international guitar festival in July. Performers come from around the world to celebrate guitar music in all its genres, from blues to classical and everything in between. Over the years legendary artists and bands have taken part, including Robert Plant, John McLaughlin, Gilberto Gil, ZZ Top, Patti Smith and Jeff Beck.

Festi Lumi

One can never tire of the spectacular sight of Bonifacio clinging to the top of a cliff on the southernmost tip of Corsica. Arguably it gets even better in early July when its labyrinthine streets and historic buildings are illuminated with a phantasmagorical and polychromatic light display.

Villas near Bonifacio

Fiera di U Vinu in Luri

July in the little town of Luri on the northern tip of Corsica means one thing: a Bacchanalian festival celebrating the island’s best wine.

Bastille Day

One of France’s great festivals is celebrated across Corsica with parades, fireworks, music, parties, son et lumière spectacles and much more besides.

A Notte di a Memoria - la Relève du Gouverneur à Bastia

Each year on 20th July, the people of Bastia relive the pageantry of a tradition that began over 500 years ago when the town was the island’s capital during Genoese rule. The arrival of a new governor was (and is!) a splendid affair of processions winding through the old town from the port to the Place du Donjon and the official residency of the governor in the citadel. The reliving of this event is one of Bastia’s most important days and the spectacle is not to be missed if you’re nearby.

Fiera di l’Alivu

The northwest of Corsica prides itself on the quality of its olive oil, and each year thousands of people flock to the village of Montemaggiore over the last two weeks of July to pay homage to Corsican olive oil.


The small village of Pigna in northwest Corsica comes alive to the sound of music in mid-July with its annual festival celebrating the human voice. Local musicians mingle with international artists for an eclectic few days of music-making.

Porto Latino

A festival for lovers of Latin and other genres of music that takes places every August in St Florent’s old town centre.

Le Fêtes Napoléoniennes

Ajaccio’s townfolk turn out en masse to honour the birthday of their most illustrious citizen, Partying, firework displays, costumed parades and much more come to a climax on 15th August, the date the great man was actually born.

Rencontres Polyphoniques de Calvi

Corsica’s ancient traditions of polyphonic singing are very much part of the island’s identity. In mid-September each year, some of the best groups gather in Calvi to celebrate their shared passion for a unique art form.

The Tour de Corse Historique

The Tour de Corse Historique is a long-standing classic car rally that attracts motoring enthusiasts from all over the world. It usually takes place during the first 10 days of October and covers much of the island, making it possible to catch a bit of it live no matter where you're staying. After watching it you could try out a couple of the stunningly scenic étapes for yourself.

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Corsica and its Christmas traditions

Christmas on Corsica has evolved over time, but there remain a host of traditions that are still evoked around the island. Many have a rustic charm to them, harking back to simpler times when little was needed to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Typically, decorations were gathered in the mountains, where holly bushes and strawberry trees grow prodigiously. Wood plays a significant role in other traditions too, especially where u focu is concerned. To keep the baby Jesus warm, fires are kept alight from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day, not just at home but also in the streets and the churchyards. During this period families visit the homes of seven friends, presenting each one with a log for their fire, around which they sit, chat to their hosts, share food and exchange good wishes.

Corsicans not only keep baby Jesus snuggly-warm, but also nourished, and the first spoonful of dinner on Christmas Eve – traditionally something simple like chestnut bread, chickpea soup and cheese - is thrown into the fire to do so. 

Those attending midnight mass, meanwhile, are “presented” with a statue of the bambinu, a symbolic gesture that re-affirms the religious significance of the day, and traditional canti natali, drawing on the island’s polyphonic choral heritage, are sung by the congregation. 

As Christmas Eve moves towards Christmas Day, another deep-rooted, rather shamanic ritual takes place as I Signadori (possessors of supernatural powers, usually women) bestow their gifts upon others, dispel l’occhiu (the evil eye), and invoke the spirits to intercede on behalf of those in need.

The visiting of families continues until 31st December, when it’s time for New Year’s celebrations, usually marked by parties, fireworks and feasting. Events are rounded off by Epiphany on 6th January, before normality returns and the islanders get back to their work, school and daily routines.

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