Nuit Blanche, a Paris Arts Festival for Night Owls

First celebrated in 2002, Nuit Blanche is an arts and culture event in Paris that’s ideal for the nocturnally inclined– and entirely free. Translating as “White Night” and held every October, the fete keeps you, as you may have guessed, up through much or all of the night.

Wander through galleries, catch live performances and roam streets illuminated by odd murals and dreamlike installations. And remember: you’re part of the happenings, too.

An installation at the Palais de Tokyo in 2018. Image: Palais de Tokyo

Attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, Nuit Blanche sees dozens of Parisian museums, galleries, city-owned buildings, parks and even swimming pools transform into after-dark happenings.

Expect everything from elaborate light installations, curated spaces and performances from international artists to live music and specially decorated metro cars.

Related: The Best Small Museums & Collections in Paris

To enjoy it to the fullest, don’t over-plan. Read on to learn more about the Nuit Blanche program in 2021, and tips on how to make the most of the long, hypnotic night.

Nuit Blanche 2021: Dates & Practical Details

In 2021, Nuit Blanche Paris falls on Saturday, October 2nd starting at around 6:00 pm or nightfall.

How to Make the Most of Nuit Blanche?

While everyone has their own approach and you should go with your gut as well, here are a few key tips to ensure your sleepless night goes without a hitch.

  • Much like the annual Paris Music Festival (Fête de la Musique), Nuit Blanche is best experienced by ambling. You might choose two or three installations and events to focus your evening around, then leave the remainder of your time to chance and open exploration. In other words, treat the event with the spirit of avant-garde curiosity and non-conformity it embodies.
  • Metro cars and night buses are likely to be busy, especially toward the end of the night, so if feasible, plan to walk back to your hotel or apartment. Take along an old-school Parisian street/neighborhoods map with you to stay oriented. Your phone may well run out of batteries, and if you don’t have 3/4G abroad, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get online at the spur of the moment to load a map.
  • October in Paris can be chilly and wet— dress warmly for the occasion and bring a waterproof jacket and shoes if forecasts predict soggy conditions.

The 2021 Program: A Few Highlights (UPDATES COMING SOON)

This year, the program will extend beyond the Parisian city center and spill into the nearby suburbs, in an effort to make the event more inclusive and to encourage visitors to look beyond tourist areas. Here are just a couple of highlights:

  • A choreographed walk and dance on the Place de l’Hotel de Ville (in front of City Hall, Metro Hotel de Ville) will see live hip-hop artists, choreographers and other performers take the stage from 7 pm. This promises to be a fun way to kick off the night.
  • At the Conciergerie, a medieval castle and former prison overlooking the Seine, see a live “air circus” from 8 pm to 9 pm, and wander through the centuries-old stone walls of the monument to take in the latest temporary exhibition.
  • The Musée des Arts et Métiers, Paris’ original science and industry museum in the city center, is hosting five free, 15-minute performances from composer Bastien David and the Compagnie Les Insectes, an experimental musical group.

You can see an interactive map of all the events for Nuit Blanche 2021 at this page. The page is in French, but if you’re comfortable using maps to plot a potential itinerary, using Google Translate to find out more details, it can still be helpful.

See related: How to Make the Most of a Fall Trip to Paris?

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