Nuit Blanche

A free annual dusk ‘til dawn arts festival that holds the entire city in its thrall

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Matthias Contzen and Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, 'Planet' / Photo: © Heinz Contzen

Matthias Contzen and Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, 'Planet' / Photo: © Heinz Contzen


Forget back-to-school and SAD: autumn in Paris is as much about reinvigorating the community's artistic ésprit as it is about falling leaves and the end of summer. Led by the Nuit Blanche festival, held every year from 7pm 'til 7am on the first Saturday in October, the city blossoms into a fantastic harvest of art, music and theatrical events. It's an unmissable time to visit, or for resident expats to shake off their post-summer sloth and get out and enjoy the city like true Parisians.

The decade-old Nuit Blanche is a free dusk 'til dawn carnival of arts and culture inspired by St Petersburg's 'White Nights', where music and the arts keep the population entertained throughout the long summer evenings when the sun never sets. In Paris, the premise is simple: for one night only, let art take over the city, and let the city be in its thrall. An ever-changing roster of artistic directors takes over different portions of the city every year, commissioning hundreds of works that are all about finding new ways for citizens to interact with the urban space. From clouds of paper butterflies settling on neoclassical columns to church naves sprouting enormous bejewelled skulls, Nuit Blanche is a riotously popular way to engage with cutting edge artistry.

This year, Nuit Blanche will be held on Saturday the 4th of October. Already in its 13th edition, the festival will this year play host to more art and music than ever before, even making use of brand new venues as yet unopened to the public. At the helm is José-Manuel Gonçalvès, director of that great multidisciplinary arts hub the Centquatre. In keeping with tradition, this year's edition will relocate to a whole new part of Paris: the Left Bank, whose lefty, literary associations should put a novel twist on proceedings (last year's festival, located in the north-east, had a distinctly hipster flavour).

In our excitement, we've compiled a list of our pick of the year's programme. You can check it out here, or take a look at the full programme on the official website. If you're planning to fit some wining 'n' dining into your evening, look no further than our feature on the bars and restaurants that will stay open throughout the night.

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