Friday, 20 April 2012 1:24 PM
Toulouse is a popular holiday destination for many reasons. Not only does its location in southern France means it benefits from pleasant weather for much of the year, but it also has a fantastic culinary heritage, with garbure and cassoulet just two of the local specialities you ought to tuck into. One thing that really makes the city stand out, though, is its rich cultural scene.
Fantastic events and festivals take place in Toulouse all year round, so, no matter what your interests are or when you decide to travel to the city, you'll definitely find at least one thing that appeals to you. With so much going on, the city's cultural calendar is chock-full of great activities, but here a few of the best ones.
Toulouse is a quintessentially French city, but it's also a melting pot of different cultures - and attending the annual Rio Loco festival is a great way to gain an appreciation of performing arts from around the world.
Each year the festival focuses on a different country or geographic region - the 2010 version had a South African theme and the Balkans was the focus in 2008 - so there's plenty of variety.
This year, Rio Loco is taking place from June 13th to 17th and is dedicated to Lusophone countries - namely those nations that speak Portuguese. Attend this year's event and you'll get an insight into the cultures of Brazil, Angola, Mozambique and - of course - Portugal.
There's the chance to see foreign language films and art exhibitions, and try a range of cuisine at Rio Loco. Whatever you do you'll be in good company, as some 200,000 people attend this cultural extravaganza each year.
It's also possible to get an insight into global culture if you go to the Occitania Festival. This annual event focuses on the links between Occitan culture (which is prevalent in southern France - including Toulouse - and some parts of Italy) and that of the wider Mediterranean.
All manner of artistic disciplines are catered for here, from jazz jam sessions to burlesque shows, and hundreds of performers will take to the stage in the month-long celebrations, which start in mid-September.
Printemps du Rire
If you're after some laughs, you'll definitely want to check out the Printemps du Rire. Regarded as one of the biggest comedy festivals in Europe, this highlight of the Toulouse cultural calendar takes place every March and has been going for more than a decade. Although you'll have the chance to see some of France's most famous comedians, it's also worth checking out amateur stand-ups doing their stuff, as you could get to see the next big thing in international comedy.
Although flamenco is an artform that originates in Spain, you'll be able to see this style of performance in France if you book car hire in Toulouse. Each year the city hosts Festival Flamenco, a week-long celebration which sees the world's best dancers and musicians converge to perform.
As well as watching the professionals strut their stuff on the dancefloor, you can take beginners' classes in flamenco, attend concerts and visit exhibitions.
If you enjoy attending dance recitals, it's worth checking out Toulouse's performing arts scene by visiting the Ravensare Festival. The annual July event, presented by Le Trait Bleu, sees up-and-coming dancers from a range of disciplines perform. You can even learn some new steps yourself by attending the dance workshops that run throughout the course of the event.