Waldensian Festival

AUGUST 9 & 10, 2024

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 that led them home, celebrating 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 fill the quaint downtown with over 15,000 visitors and residents during the 2-day festival celebration. The Friday night kickoff features live music, a 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, a bocce tournament, an open art competition, attraction tours, street dances, and live music throughout the day. The Valdese community looks forward to sharing the celebration with you! 

NO OUTSIDE COOLERS & ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, OR PETS ARE PERMITTED AT THIS EVENT. Thank you for helping us keep the Waldensian Festival safe and enjoyable for everyone!

Interested in becoming a vendor? Download the vendor application HERE!

Food Vendors! Access your application HERE!

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)
Live Music Main Stage (Rodoret & Main)
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 9am - 5pm Main Street - Old Rock School to Carolina Street
Food Trucks Open 9am - 9pm Main Street near Main Stage area
Main Stage (Rodoret & Main)
Open Art Competition & People's Choice Award 9am Old Rock School - Art Galleries
FREE Kidz Zone Opens - Bouncy Houses, Lawn Games, Playground, & More! 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
Old Colony Players Reenactment 10:30am Main Stage (Rodoret & Main)
11am Main Stage (Rodoret & Main)
12pm - 1pm Main Stage (Rodoret & Main)
Debbie Huffman Dance Academy Demonstration 2pm Main Stage (Rodoret & Main)
3pm Main Stage (Rodoret & Main)
From This Day Forward - Outdoor Drama 8pm Fred B. Cranford Amphitheatre - Church Street