Waldensian Festival

The Waldensian Festival held annually in August, began as the "Festival of the Glorious Return" to commemorate one of the most important dates in Waldensian history. In the late 17th century King Louis XIV of France, attempted to destroy the Waldensian people. At his command, thousands were killed and those who survived were thrown into prison. After other European protestants protested against the persecution, those men who survived prison were released and forced into exile in Geneva, Switzerland. 

They were commanded to leave their valleys, and traverse the bitter cold Alps during the dead of winter. Many deaths occurred during the journey, but when the survivors reached Geneva, they were treated with generous hospitality. But they were still determined to return to their homeland. In August 1689, led by Henry Arnaud, 800 men fought their way back through a French force of 2,500. Because of the unconquerable spirit which led them home, the celebration of the glorious return of the Waldenses to their valleys has been celebrated each August for more than 300 years. For many years a community picnic and worship service on August 15th commemorated the date in Valdese. In 1976, the first festival of the Glorious Return was held in Valdese on the second Saturday in August.

The event is presented by the Town of Valdese each year to commemorate the heroic Waldensian people who founded Valdese in 1893. Honoring the Town's unique heritage with a variety of events that fills the quaint downtown with over 15,000 visitors and residents during the 2 day festival celebration. The Friday night kickoff features live music, classic car show, amusement rides and a special presentation of the outdoor drama "From This Day Forward". The weekend continues on Saturday when Main Street is lined with over 170 food/art/craft vendors, amusement rides, bocce tournament, church service, traditional Waldensian meal, open art competition, attraction tours, street dances and live music throughout the day. The Valdese community looks forward to sharing the celebration with you! 

Download the Vendor Application HERE

Download the Major Food Vendor Application HERE

Thank you to our event sponsors!

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Waldensian Festival Schedule
Friday Events
Tours at the Waldensian Heritage Museum 10am-5pm Waldensian Heritage Museum - Rodoret Street
Main Street Begins Closing 5pm Main Street - Praley Street to Italy Street
Cruise In, Food Trucks, Beer & Wine Garden 5:30pm Main Street - Praley Street to Italy Street
Mayor's Welcome & Opening Announcements 6:45pm Main Stage (Rodoret & Main Street)
Live Music by The Cat5 7pm -11pm Main Stage (Rodoret & Main Street)
From This Day Forward - outdoor drama 8pm Fred B. Cranford Amphitheatre - Church Street
Saturday Events
Waldensian Footrace 8am Valdese Recreation Department
LPDA Bocce Tournament 8am LPDA
Exhibits Open 9-6pm Main Street - Old Rock School to Carolina Street
Food Trucks Open 9-9pm Main Street near Main Stage area
Tumblemania Gymnastic Demonstration 9am Main Stage (Rodoret & Main Street)
Open Art Competition & People's Choice Award 9am Old Rock School - Art Galleries
FREE Kidz Zone Opens - Bouncy Houses & Water Obstacle Courses! 9am - 4pm Main Street (Praley to Old Rock School)
Piedmont & Western Railroad Museum Open House 9am-3pm Old Rock School - Train Museum
Tours at the Trail of Faith 9am-5pm Trail of Faith - Church Street
Tours at the Waldensian Heritage Museum 10am-5pm Waldensian Heritage Museum - Rodoret Street
Outdoor Drama Preview 10:30am Main Stage (Rodoret & Main Street)
Gravity Check Jugglers 11am Main Stage (Rodoret & Main Street)
Waldensian Presbyterian Church Service & Traditional Meal 11am Waldensian Presbyterian Church
The Brother's Cooperative 12pm Main Stage (Rodoret & Main Street)
Debbie Huffman Dance Academy Demonstration 2pm Main Stage (Rodoret & Main Street)
BAND TBA 3pm Main Stage (Rodoret & Main Street)
Beer & Wine Garden Opens 5pm Main Street - near Main Stage Area
The Catalinas 7pm -10pm Main Stage (Rodoret & Main Street)
From This Day Forward - outdoor drama 8pm Fred B. Cranford Amphitheatre - Church Street