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The tradition of Saint Nicolas in Épinal

The festival of Saint Nicolas in Épinal includes a procession which has 60 floats and brass bands and winds through a 3-kilometre parade route.

The Saint Nicolas celebration in Épinal is a moment when cheeks are turned red by the cold, families and friends come from all over France and try warming themselves around mulled wine accompanied by gingerbread. During this festive weekend, the town of Épinal is illuminated with its most beautiful light decorations and a magical atmosphere is created in the Village of Saint Nicolas in the town centre. The latter consists of pretty wooden chalets offering sweets and homemade treats.

Lighting the Fir Tree

A somewhat gigantic and impressive fir tree from a nearby forest poses in the square - Place des Vosges from the end of November until the New Year. It is symbolically lit at the start of the Saint Nicholas’ weekend which marks the opening of a month of festivities and animation.

A popular parade

For the Saint Nicolas parade in Épinal, more than 60 floats and brass bands make up a procession that winds through a 3-kilometre parade route. With the brass bands playing, the floats invade the town for a large popular procession illuminated and adorned with a thousand colours. Saint Nicolas closes the show, applauded by the crowd and the marvelled children, followed by Father Fouettard ringing his bell while being booed by the crowds.

The floats are imagined, designed and produced by local associations or villages which surprise the public every year by their inventiveness, creativity and artistic sense. Spaceships, gigantic monsters, the forests of the Vosges, gingerbread houses, cartoon stars, ancient legends and the enchanted universes are all represented, inviting the public to return their childhood for an evening.

See you on 8th December 2018 in Épinal

Once the Parade is finished Saint Nicolas heads to the Moselle River. He goes to the bridge - Pont Sadi Carnot and delivers a compassionate speech before returning to heaven to distribute his gifts to every home. A magnificent firework display accompanies his departure. This pyrotechnic show lasts about 30 minutes. In 2018, the parade is taking place on 8th December in Épinal. The procession leaves the square - Place des Vieux Moulins, to take its annual march and finishes on the bridge - Pont Sadi Carnot and is followed by its famous firework display.

This unmissable and magical festival helps to make the Cité des Images the theatre for a unique and living spectacle. Parents and children remember it and keep wonderful memories of this occasion and continue to preserve the tradition of Saint Nicholas.