Holidays

The World's Best Costume Parties

by Sarah Gold

Pegoulado and the Costume Festival, Arles, France

What it is: Two weekend festivals that cap off a month of folkloric celebrations in the Arles region of Provence, France. These celebrate the culture and traditional clothing of Arles residents, so you'll see townsfolk (especially women) dressed up like Vincent van Gogh portraits. (The artist lived here for 15 tortured and impoverished months—it's where the infamous ear incident occurred.)

Party time: The last weekend in June. For 2007, that means June 29 through July 1.

The getup: Nineteenth-century Arlesian dance, music, and traditional apparel is the focus of the festival. For locals, fashion is tres sérieux (did we mention Christian Lacroix is from Arles?). Full skirts, lacy capelets, bonnets trimmed with velvet ribbons, and parasols—to protect the complexion—are de rigueur.

Where it's at: The Pegoulado, a torchlit evening procession, winds along the Boulevard des Lices on Friday; the Costume Festival is held on Sunday in the ancient Roman amphitheater.

What goes down: For the Pegoulado, some people parade on horseback and others dance in the streets to fife-and-drum music. During the Costume Festival, groups gather in the amphitheater (ordinarily used as a bullring) to perform folkloric dances. Hacking off one's ear is purely optional.

For Arles festival history and information: www.tourisme.ville_arles.fr/us/a6a/a6a5.htm
Tel: 33 4 90 184 120

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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