What's on in Paris - December 2018

  • November 27, 2018
  • All things Paris
  • Rupert Comer

The Christmas season is fast approaching and around about this time Paris starts to light up, both literally and figuratively, with plenty of attractions and events all over the city. Paris comes to life during the month f December, and visiting Paris in December is sure to please everyone, as there's simply so much to do! Alongside Christmas markets and light installations, you can expect plenty of art, music and cultural events in the city. We’ve put together our list of what’s worth seeing in December, from ice skating to African music festivals, and everything in between. DIscover what's on in Paris this December in the Paris December events calendar.


duel battle of the ballads 

Music and comedy combined - Duel, Battle of the Ballads

Théâtre de la Gaîté Montparnasse, until 23 December 2018

A show combining physical comedy alongside classical, jazz and modern music, Duel, Battle of the Ballads is sure to please all. A cellist and a pianist compete playfully on stage through music in a variety of skits and sketches that will leave you in stitches. The show is entirely without dialogue but manages to impress through the musical virtuosity and comedic skill of the two performers. Playing at the Théâtre de la Gaîté Montparnasse, in the heart of Paris’ legendary artistic neighbourhood, Duel is not to be missed. Grab your tickets here.



Discover Paris’ Suburbs through music - Africolor Music Festival

16 November - 22 December 2018

Now in its thirtieth year, the Africolor music festival is the biggest celebration of African music in France, showcasing innovative artists from all corners of the continent. Africolor takes place in November and December in a wide variety of venues, some in Paris, but most in the city’s surrounding suburbs. The festival is therefore a great way to get to know neighbourhoods outside of the normal Paris tourist trail, such as Montreuil, an artistic hub to the west of the city. On the program this year are groups like Lemma, who play traditional music from Algeria, and Hiélectro fusing West African music with French electro.


chicago the musical

Broadway comes to Paris - Chicago, the Musical

Théâtre Mogador, until 30 June 2019

Come watch one of Broadway’s most iconic musicals in one of Paris’ most beautiful venues, the Théâtre Mogador. A tale of murder, celebrity and media manipulation, Chicago the Musical may be one of the longest-running Broadway shows, but the story still holds true today, in the social media age. Transport yourself back to prohibition era Chicago and come see this spectacular adaptation. Tickets can be found here.


galeries lafayette

The place to be for Christmas displays - Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette, until 6 January 2019

Galeries Lafayette is Paris’ answer to London’s Harrods department store, and each year features grandiose lights and decorations for Christmas. Look out for the famous window displays and the dramatic light installation covering the facade of the department store. Galeries Lafayette is also known for its giant and often unconventional Christmas trees. For example, one of the past trees was installed upside down, and another was composed entirely of white paper. Each and every year international designer work to make the original Christmas decor in this legendary Parisian department store. Whether you want to complete all your holiday shopping or simply catch a glimpse of this year's creation, it's always worth a visit!


valjean, beyond les miserables

An intimate theatre experience - Valjean, beyond Les Misérables

Théâtre Essaïon, until 18 January 2019

If you’re a fan of Les Misérables then you will love this one man show exploring in depth the character of Jean Valjean. Performed entirely in English, this intimate and refreshing reworking of Victor Hugo’s most famous work follows the novel’s protagonist, who struggles after being sent to prison for stealing bread to feed his sister’s children. The show’s venue is Théâtre Essaïon. Located in the iconic Marais neighbourhood, the theatre is in what used to be a medieval vaulted cave, and will transport you to the past with its stone walls and curved ceiling. Tickets for Valjean, beyond Les Misérables can be found here.


polar bearCaption: Copyright China Light Festival B.V.

Take a nocturnal stroll in the Botanical Gardens - Espèces en voie d’illumination

Jardin des Plantes, 16 November 2018 - 15 January 2019

The Jardin des Plantes is France’s biggest botanical garden and this year will be the site of a magnificent light installation aiming to raise awareness about endangered animals. The exhibition “Espèces en voie d’illumination” features huge illuminated sculptures of animals that are either long extinct or currently endangered. Tickets allow visitors to take a nocturnal stroll through the grounds of the Jardin des Plantes and admire the glowing statues of mammoths and polar bears on display.


handball parisCaption: Copyright Carlos Delgado; CC-BY-SA

Forget about football - European Women’s Handball Finals

AccorHotels Arena, 14 December - 16 December 2018

Handball is becoming an increasingly popular sport in France, particularly with the women’s team taking home gold last year at the World Championship. This year France is also hosting the European Women’s Handball Championship, with the finals taking place in Paris. If the national team make it through then this is the perfect opportunity to soak up the competitive atmosphere and to get yourself acquainted with this often overlooked sport.


paula regoCaption: Paula Rego “The Dance”, copyright Private Collection/Bridgeman Images

Painting children’s tales - The cruel stories of Paula Rego

Musée de l’Orangerie, until January 14 2019

Portuguese-British artist Paula Rego has a new solo exhibition at Musée de l’Orangerie, in the beautiful Tuileries Gardens in Paris’ first arrondissement. Entitled “The cruel stories of Paula Rego”, the exhibition features many of Rego’s paintings as well as several of the sinister sculptures she creates as aides to her process. Rego’s work is rooted in the cruel psychology of children’s tales and her paintings often reformulate popular stories such as Pinocchio and Peter Pan, intertwining them with references to her personal life as well as social and political issues. Her most famous painting, “The Dance”, is also on display, and can be seen as an ode to her husband, who passed away during its creation.


hotel de ville ice skating

Skate underneath the Eiffel Tower - Paris Ice skating rinks

When Christmas time approaches a number of ice skating rinks pop up all over Paris, many of them strategically placed next to Christmas markets or in beautiful locations. For instance, you can don your skates right underneath the Eiffel Tower at the Champ de Mars Christmas market. If you’d rather stay inside instead, then head to the Grand Palais des Glaces where the Grand Palais is transformed into France’s biggest skating rink from the 16th of December until the 9th of January. Patinoire Pailleron is another indoor ice skating rink in northeast Paris, which is open all year round.


Grayson Perry “Expulsion from Number 8 Eden Close”,

An exhibition at the Paris Mint - Grayson Perry

Monnaie de Paris, until 3 February 2019

His first major solo exhibition in France, Grayson Perry explores identity, gender and class at the Monnaie de Paris (the Paris Mint). A cultural icon in the UK, Grayson Perry is known for working in mediums considered old-fashioned while adding a modern twist. His vases and tapestries are filled with pop references and are rich in symbolism. The exhibition will take over the two floors of the Monnaie de Paris and is split into ten themed chapters, each exploring a different facet of the artist’s interests.


film festival

The best of fantasy cinema - Paris International Fantastic Film Festival

Max Linder Panorama, 4 December - 9 December 2018

The Paris International Fantastic Film Festival is back again this December and will be premiering a range of new films all within the fantasy genre. This year they are taking over the Max Linder Panorama cinema near Grands Boulevards on the bustling Boulevard Poissonnière. Kicking off with Assassination Nation, about a town in America descending into chaos, most of the films will be playing in English with French subtitles, and one notable example is the much-hyped film Sorry to Bother You, the first feature from Boots Riley, frontman of the band The Coup.


Try something new - Alternative Christmas Markets

There are plenty of traditional Christmas Markets to see around Paris in December, but this year why not try something different? In the second arrondissement you can find a Japanese Christmas Market located in Passage Choiseul, one of Paris’ quaint covered passages. Equally, La REcyclerie, a former train station that has been renovated into a café and eco-friendly event space, is home to two Christmas markets this December. A Vegan Christmas Market will take place here on the 16th of December and a Nordic Christmas Market on the 15th of December.


So there you have it, the latest shows, expositions, and openings going on in Paris this December. Don’t forget to explore all the latest Paris expositions in previous months’ calendars, many are still running! Mark your calendars, you won’t want to miss a single Parisian event, and stay tuned next month for the January edition of What’s on in Paris!


Want more hidden secrets of Paris?

* indicates required
Welcome to Paris, tell us more about yourself
By signing up you agree to our Privacy Policy.