Pfifferdaj; The fiddlers' festival in Ribeauville

The Fiddler’s Festival known as Pfifferdaj in Alsatian is the Oldest Festival in Alsace. The festival has been celebrated for over 600 years starting during the days when the Lord Ribeaupierre had influence over this medieval town. Today it has transported into a fantastic festival full of colour, history, food and wine not to mention the spectacular parade in the streets of the Ribeauville.

The Fiddler’s Festival happens every September in the 1st weekend of the month. The Festival is over 3 days with the highlight being Sunday afternoons historic parade.

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On Saturday from 10am you will find the village alive with entertainment in the street and markets that last all weekend. The streets are lined with restaurants that have expanded outside to be part of the atmosphere. At 7pm a public ball happens at the Marquee Ribeauville City Garden followed by a Torchlight Procession through the streets of the town from 8:30pm.

On Sunday the whole village shuts down for the best day of the Festival. To get into the village for the festivities it cost 8€ which can be purchased at one of the entrances into the village, this will also allow you to come and go as you please from the village during the day.

Sunday starts at 9am when the whole village is woken by musicians walking through the streets playing rousing music to begin the festivities for the day. From 10am the many different musicians that have travelled far and wide to Ribeauville perform down the Grand’ rue and the squares in the village, they are wonderful to see from their bright costumes to their unique musicials instruments that create wonderful tunes to enjoy all day long. You will be able to witness locals in full medieval dress, the shops dressing up for the occasion and the excitement of everyone enjoying this old festival.

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The big festivities begin at 2.30pm with a musical processions from all the marching bands you have seen throughout the day, you are able to witness all the big bright fantastic bands together, each one being unique.

From 3pm the Parade begins with its wonderful floats from Medieval Stories from the Area to Fairytale stories. They are made up of chariots, jugglers, dancers, fire eaters, singers and all the entertainers having the greatest time. I have never seen such wonderful, creative and fun floats in my life. Every one is having a great time from the little children dressed up as mice to the adults partying hard to create their characters which make us laugh right through to the vintage floaters who now sit upon the of the float as the Kings and Queens of the parade. As a costumier I adored how all these costumes where designed to create each unique character, I would love to design their costumes one day.

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During my experience to the Pfifferdaj I got to see Musicians from all over Germany and Switzerland including the local marching band. I was able to witness elaborate floats from Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots and some new ones that I had never seen such as Blue Beard, what a spectacle it all was.

After the parade the huge street party begins which includes us the audience who enjoyed the procession and the entertainer who where part of the parade. Free wine tasting happens at the fountain outside l'Hôtel de Ville which turns into a ball in the streets with the winners of the Parade being announced at 8pm. It truly is a night to remember.

For the Sunday festivities it is best to arrive around midday you can either bring your own picnic or eat in one of the restaurants on the main street or pick up a patisseries at one of the many bakeries. it is best to arrive around midday as you can leisurely stroll up and down the main street enjoying the atmosphere and the beautiful village with all its bright architecture and flowers as well as seeing many marching bands providing entertainment down the street and all that are dressed for the occasion.

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A tip is to bring a chair (trust me you will need it) as it is best to claim a spot to watch the parade around 1.30pm as it gets busy fast. I suggest finding a place in the middle of the street as you will be in the heart of the village with the buzzling atmosphere around you. The procession does last till at least 6pm as you will witness 1000’s of performers in the parade.

The festival ends on the Monday in the afternoon at the town hall with the passing over of Gingerbread to the Mayor of Ribeauville along with a music concert to close the weekend of entertainment and music.

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This is such a wonderful and unique festival to experience. I had never witnessed anything like this, it brings so much excitement to everyone around you.. just wonderful what the fabulous display will be this year. I have never seen so many smiles from children to locals who go every year. It is the perfect stage in streets of Ribeauville to enjoy such wonderful stories, I look forward to going next year and seeing what can WOW me again like this is so well this year.

For more information on Ribeauville have a look at my previous blog, As well as looking at the Pfifferdaj website for updated information on the Festival. Ribeauville is a great idea at any time of the year.