The Licques Turkey Festival is a Christmas festival with a difference. It’s one of the quirkiest, and certainly turkey-est festivals in France. It celebrates the turkey, traditional bird of choice for Christmas dinner for many.
The town of Licques in the north of France, 22km from Calais is known by the locals as “Turkey Town”. It’s famous for its poultry and of course, turkeys! Introduced to the area in the 17th Century by monks at the Abbey of Licques the Licques Turkey is these days bred specifically for the Christmas season.
To honour this tradition and heritage Licques Poultry decided to hold a festival in the town. And, the event has grown in popularity year on year with thousands of visitors from far and wide. In fact, this fete has been voted one of the 100 most beautiful festivals of France.
Licques Fete des Dindes
Each year in mid December a Christmas market of regional products lures gourmets and those who want to stock up on cheese, wine, Champagne, chocolate, local and regional produce. A huge covered area is set up with lots of stalls as sellers descend on the town to offer their wares and tastings. Most popular is of course the Licques turkey stall. Outside the tent, yet more stalls line the streets and the aroma of roasting chestnuts evokes the spirit of Christmas.
It’s the Sunday morning turkey parade though, that draws the biggest crowds to this very welcoming town.
A turkey festival that’s truly quirky
At about 10.30 a.m. (sometimes a bit later as it takes a while to get everything sorted) thousands of visitors gather at the Place de la Marie. The little square is at the top of the main street and crowds line the road. With great fanfare, turkeys are released from a huge holding pen and take part in a procession. They’re guided by the Noble Dames and Knights of the Brotherhood of the Turkey. Accompanied by representative artisan and guilds groups from local towns dressed in all their finery, this bizarre procession makes its stately way through the town. Warmed by a glass of the local Licquoise liqueur brewed in a huge cauldron over a bonfire, the crowds accompany the turkeys who seem to be enjoying their moment in the limelight!
For a truly authentic and very French Christmas market and festival – this is a great experience. Plus. there are lots of superb regional products. And there’s even a giant tent in which a tea dance and lunch take place. For a genuine celebration of Christmas and turkeys – this event can’t be beaten.
Licques Turkey Festival 2019
The Licques Turkey Festival usually takes place the middle weekend of December and will be held 11-12 December 2021.