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The Village Fête, by Rubens (c. 1635)

A fête, or fete, is an elaborate festival, party or celebration.[1] In Britain, fêtes are traditional public festivals, held outdoors and organised to raise funds for a charity. They typically include entertainment and the sale of goods and refreshments.[2]

Village fêtes[edit]

An English village fête

Village fêtes are common in Britain. These are usually outdoor shows held on village greens or recreation grounds with a variety of activities. They are organised by an ad hoc committee of volunteers from organisations like religious groups or residents' associations. In Australia, fêtes are often held yearly by schools and sometimes churches to raise funds.

Attractions seen at village fêtes include tombolas, raffles, coconut shies, bat a rat stalls, white elephant stalls, cakes, and home produce such as jams and pickles. Entertainment may include Morris dancing, tug of war, fancy dress, and pet shows. The American and Canadian equivalent would be a county or city fair.

Other types[edit]

Harvard University's Eliot House uses the term to refer to its spring formal. In Trinidad and Tobago and other English-speaking Caribbean territories, fêtes are huge parties held during the Carnival season. Bloomington, Minnesota's, Independence Day celebration (traditionally held on the 3rd of July) has been known as Summer Fete since 1978.


The English word fête, pronounced /ˈft/ (FAYT) or /ˈfɛt/ (FET), is borrowed from the Mediaeval Latin "festus" via the French fête, meaning "holiday" or "party".[3] The 12th-century Middle English root "festa" is shared with feast, festive, festal and festival, festoon, the Spanish "fiesta" or Portuguese “festa” and the proper name Festus.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Phillips Mark (2007), Vocabulary Dictionary and Workbook: 2,856 Words You Must Know, A. J. Cornell Publications, p. 179, ISBN 978-0-9727439-4-5
  2. ^ "Fete". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. 
  3. ^ The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) ISBN 0-19-861263-X - p.677 "fête /feɪt/ noun Brit. a public function, typically held outdoors and organised to raise funds for charity...".