October has always been one of the best months for events in Bordeaux and this year is no exception. The international contemporary art festival is taking place this month as well as the hot air balloon festival in Saint Emilion and open doors weekends in different chateaux. In this post, I published only the biggest and most famous events and festivals in the region, but in a city like Bordeaux you can enjoy many activities and events like brocantes, art markets, and concerts every weekend. I usually publish those in my newsletter which is send every Friday morning – you can subscribe to my email list to enjoy all the updates about Bordeaux and the southwest of France.
Don’t forget to join my Travel in the Southwest of France group for more tips and ideas for things to do in the region. And if you’re currently planning your trip to Bordeaux, here’s an article about the best districts in Bordeaux with hotels recommendations.
Here are the best things to do in Bordeaux in October 2021 (scroll down for exhibitions recommendations)!
FAB – International art festival
FAB is the annual International art festival of Bordeaux Metropole taking place this year on October 1-23. As one of Europe’s biggest art festivals, it attracts some known names from the international contemporary art scene. During the three weeks of the festival, more than 30 shows will take place in more than 20 different locations in Bordeaux. Click here to see the full program of the festival.
When: October 1-20 / Where: Different locations in Bordeaux metropole – check out the program
Nuit des Bibliothèques
La Nuit des Bibliothèques taking place on October 2, is a great opportunity to discover the libraries across the city. 27 libraries in Bordeaux Metropole will participate in this event and will offer such activities as concerts, theater shows, science workshops, games for kids and more. See more details here and the full program here.
When: October 2 – evening / Where: Bordeaux, Merignac, Pessac, and more – check out the full program
La Grande Transhumance Urbaine
The Grande Transhumance Urbaine is a fun event taking place every October in Villenave d’Ornon (one of Bordeaux’s southern suburbs). The idea of this festival is to connect city people to the local agriculture with the main event being an 8km sheep march, passing through different farms. On the way, you can enjoy concerts and markets with local products. This year the event will take place on October 3rd, with the march starting from Ferme de Baugé and ending at Domaine de la Junca. See more details here and the full program here.
When: October 3 / Where: Villenave d’Ornon, check out the full program
Foire aux Plaisirs
This is the fall edition of the traditional Bordelais Fair that is taking place at Place des Quinconces from October 8 to November 1. It’s a perfect activity for kids and for those who are young in spirit as La Foire aux Plaisirs de Bordeaux has it all: a big wheel, roller coasters, ghost trains, bumper cars, donuts, crèpes, candyfloss and more. The fair is open daily from 14:00, you are not required to pay any entry fee, only for some of the attractions. See more info about the fair here.
When: October 8 – November 1 / Where: Place des Quinconces, Bordeaux
Animasia is a festival of Asian pop culture bringing together many elements like J-POP music, Yosakoi dance, karaoke and Cosplay performances. The place will also include thematic areas with martial arts, video games, board games and more. The festival will take place on the weekend of October 9-10 at the Parc des Expositions. For more info and tickets check out the website of the festival.
When: October 9-10 / Where: Parc des Expositions, Bordeaux
Village des Sciences
On October 9-10 Bordeaux’s science museum will host its annual Village des Sciences weekend. This year’s theme is “critical thinking”. See more details here (the program will be published soon).
When: September 9-10 / Where: Hangar 20, Quai de Bacalan, Bordeaux
Lire en Poche – books festival
Lire en Poche is a pocketbooks festival that will take place in Gradignan on October 8-10. Besides a huge book sale, a wide range of activities are offered to the participants, among them: reading sessions, theater shows, music, games, workshops for kids, and more. The entrance to the festival is free, however, some activities are paid and require prior reservation. For more info click here.
When: October 8-10 / Where: Théâtre des Quatre Saisons et à La Médiathèque Jean Vautrin, 32 route de Léognan – 33170 Gradignan
Montgolfiades de Saint-Emilion
Montgolfiades is an annual festival of hot-air balloon flights organized by Le Ciel est à Toi association. The flights will take place on October 15-17 above Saint Emilion and the vineyards around it, so the sight is promised to be breathtaking. For more info click here.
Before you go be sure to check out my article about the best wineries to visit in Saint Emilion.
When: October 15-17 / Where: in the vineyards of Saint Emilion, just follow the balloons
Open doors in the Chateaux of Graves
Graves, one of the wine regions in the Bordeaux wine area, invites you to an open doors weekend, allowing you to discover its wines and châteaux. During the weekend (October 16-17) 71 châteaux will open their doors to visits, wine tastings, wine workshops and different activities for kids and adults. See the full program of the event and the list of participating châteaux here.
When: October 16-17 / Where: Graves area – chose your chateau from the program
FIFIB- Bordeaux international festival of independent movies
Bordeaux Independent Films Festival will take place on October 13-18 at Rue Mably in the center of Bordeaux. The program includes film screenings, concerts and meetings with special guests. Every evening, the festival village will transform into an open cinema theater and a dance floor. The event is free and open for all. See the full program on the site of the festival.
When: October 13-18 / Where: Le Village du FIFIB, 3 rue Mably, Bordeaux
A bit of Basque country!
Foire au Jambon
If you really love ham, this is the event for you! Every year, Bayonne, the capital of the French Basque country hosts the Foire au Jambon, where the best ham producer is chosen. The program also includes a big market with plenty of local food producers, farm animals, and music on the streets of Bayonne. The festival will take place on October 15-17. For more info click here.
When: October 15-17 / Where: Bayonne
Fête du Piment d’Espelette
Piment d’Espelette is the red pepper that decorates every market in the Basque country and every shop selling Basque products. Like every important ingredient in the French kitchen, this little pepper needs a “fête”. Fête du Piment d’Espelette is taking place on October 23-24 in the beautiful village of Espelette. The program includes a big parade, a huge market, musical concerts, activities for kids, a mass with the choir of Espelette, and more. For more details click here.
Read more about this beautiful village in my article about Espelette.
When: October 23-24 / Where: Espelette, 64250
Exhibitions not to miss in Bordeaux
If you want to discover the main museums of Bordeaux, check out my article about the best art, history, and wine museums of Bordeaux. Otherwise here are three exhibitions you can go see this month:
L’Institut Bernard Magrez – Free Spirit
Finally, for the first time since March 2020, l’Institut Bernard Magrez hosts a new exhibition. This beautiful place is known for hosting some of the best street art exhibitions in Bordeaux and this time it will be the American artist JonOne with his exhibition “Free Spirit”! The exhibition will be presented between September 25 and February 27.
For more details and tickets click here.
La Cité du Vin – Boire avec les dieux
Drinking with the gods is a temporary exhibition presented at the wine museum of Bordeaux until November 7. Through a lively experience of sound and visuals, the exhibition touches upon the connection between wine, gods, and men in Greco-Roman civilization. For more details click here.
Monet, Renoir… Chagall, Voyages en Méditerranée
Visiting Les Bassins de Lumières is an amazing cultural experience that should not be missed when in Bordeaux. The exhibition that is currently running there is called Monet, Renoir… Chagall, Voyages en Méditerranée. You can get a bit of an impression of how it looks inside in my video below. The exhibition is taking place from May 19 to January 2nd. You must book your tickets in advance.
If you’re looking for more ideas for day trips in the Bordeaux region here are a few other articles you might want to read:
The best beaches around Bordeaux
Day trips around Bordeaux – wine, beaches, and villages
10 day trips from Bordeaux by Public transport
A weekend in Medoc – Bordeaux wine tours
What to do and eat in Saint Emilion
You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here: