This is a partial list of local festivals, fairs and costumed events. To verify the exact dates, please contact the local tourist board.
Verres: Historical Carnival Pageant and Parade: Thousands of people come for this delightful presentation, which recounts the inheritance disputes between the beautiful daughters of Francesco di Challand, a local aristocrat. On the Saturday before Carnival, a costumed procession winds its way through the streets to Town Hall, where the Mayor hands a gold key to Caterina, thus making her Lady of the Manor. Her first official act is to invite the crowd to celebrate in her castle. The festivities last for three days, culminating in an incredibly colorful (and noisy!) carnival parade on Tuesday.
Pont-Saint-Martin: Roman Carnival: This is probably the only place in the world where a host of toga-clad tribunes, senators, legions, guards and nymphs celebrate Carnival with a real chariot race! The origins are lost in time, but don’t date as far back as the town bridge (pictured at left), an engineering feat built 2000 years ago by the imperial legions. The festivities end on Tuesday, when a straw devil is burned in effigy under the bridge.
Courmayeur: Carnival: Traditional folk dances welcome the arrival of spring during this very popular pageant, which features the bear (whose early appearance has the same meaning as our groundhog’s), the mule (whose tail sweeps away evil winds), and loads of tiny mirrors (to frighten off evil spirits).
Nus: Historical Carnival: A large procession of costumed villagers follows the municipal band throughout the entire city, accompanied by colorful floats and hundreds of masked figures. Free soup for all at the end of the day.
Saint-Vincent: Children’s Carnival: The festivities begin with the investiture of the Little Mayor, and for the next eleven days the grade school kids rule this spa town. Watch how you behave around them too: the squad of “little guardians” is allowed to administer fines (all proceeds are donated to charity).
Pila: Snow Carnival
Brissogne: Rebatta Competition. This popular local game features a large spiked ball balanced on the end of a pipe and tossed up to 600 yards.
Pollein: Tsan Competition. Local farmers probably invented this game, which resembles a rudimentary folk version of baseball.
Nus: Vien de Nus Festival celebrates the two local wines, Rouge and Malvoisie. Performances by local folklore groups are followed by a costumed parade and an outdoor banquet for one and all, featuring fritters, salami and other tasty dishes washed down with the new vintages.
Gressoney-Saint-Jean: Festival of St. John. It begins the evening of June 23rd, when a crowd of residents and guests walk from one neighborhood to another to witness a series of bonfires. Each little burg offers its visitors wine and snacks, and the next day everyone puts on their very best Walser costumes and attends high mass to witness the blessing of the sheep.
Saint-Rhemy-en-Bosses: Ham Festival, featuring the renowned local varieties.
Gaby: Polenta Picnic. Everyone is invited to participate in the cooking and the eating.
La Thuile: Bataille de reines and Shepherds’ Festival (Sunday after August 15th). The hillsides of the Little Saint Bernard come alive each year for this festival, celebrated by folklore groups and local bands. The crowning moment comes in the afternoon when the farmers pick the “festival queen”: the most valuable milk cow. The lucky winner gets to participate at the finals in Aosta, one of the most enthusiastically awaited events of the year in this rural region.
Chambave: Grape Festival (last Sunday of the month). Folklore groups and local bands perform while everyone attends a huge outdoor banquet. At the end of the day the local authorities choose the year’s best variety of grapes.
Gressan: Apple Festival (second Sunday of the month), featuring the local cider and a vast assortment of apple desserts.
Aosta: Bataille de reines Finals (next-to-last Sunday of the month).
Aosta: International Hot Air Balloon Encounter. One entire week of events (including public excursions over the city), culminating in the spectacular (and dangerous) ascent of 13,000-foot Mont Blanc.
Almost everywhere: Living Nativity Scenes (December).
Cervinia: Torchlit Procession on Skis (December).
List of festivals courtesy of www.hostetler.net