French festivals will take place in 2021, but…

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Vieilles Charrues
Vieilles Charrues at night - Photo by Mathieu Ezan

On Thursday 18 February, Roselyne Bachelot, Minister of Culture, made her decision. Festivals in France will take place this summer, but in a whole different format and concept. Some of the events, like the Vieilles Charrues, already made some decisions to change their format. Some other ones, like Hellfest, had to cancel.

This week has been complicated and decisive for French festivals. On Monday 15 February, Roselyne Bachelot met the organisers of the small festivals, saying that they would take place if the audience was seated. She showed some doubts for the biggest ones, and met their organisers on Thursday 18 February. Now the decisions have been made.

Photo: Eva Wendt / Festileaks

No more than 5000 people

In the beginning of the month, French festivals wrote to the Minister of Culture, to ask for visibility and rules to organise their events. Most of the events were ready to adapt their structure and format. So, Roselyne Bachelot said that she would provide answers 15 days later. Now, the answer has been given.

There will be some possibilities to organise French festivals. Therefore, no one will be able to host more than 5000 people on the same day. Moreover, everyone will be seated and at the moment there is no possibility to have bars or food options. The festivals will be guided and helped through another weird year. Bachelot already announced that the government will help with a budget of 30 million euros.

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Posted by FESTIVAL DES VIEILLES CHARRUES on Friday, February 19, 2021

Some festivals are ready to adapt

For some of the biggest festivals, the decision is hard to accept, but they are ready to change. Jérôme Tréhorel, director of the Vieilles Charrues, already announced that the festival will take place. This year, it will be 10 nights of concerts at the same place. Of course, it will not be possible to camp at the festival as it has been every other year. More information will follow in the next months. For now, we know that Celine Dion already rescheduled her Europe tour for 2022.

Francofolies de la Rochelle, another big event, shows hopes for their summer 2021. Gérard Pont, director of the festival says: “At least there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just to remind us, last year, there was no light.”. The festival generally hosts a French line up, so for them, there’s no problem. Moreover, they already have 12,000 general entrance tickets, so the format is viable and it is completely possible to seat 5000 festival goers.

Some hard decisions to make

Everyone is not sharing that hope. Events like Eurockéennes are “in shock”. How do you organise a seated festival with 5,000 people when the line up is mostly rock? This year, Muse is announced at the French festival. Same boat for Main Square Festival, which should have Twenty One Pilots, Black Eyed Peas and Sting on their line up. “We should not make a hasty decision”.

Les Déferlantes, another big event, already changed their location. Will they be able to change their format to follow the government’s rules?

A list of cancelled festivals to come

Since Bachelot announced those rules, Hellfest had to cancel. The director adds : “How do you adapt your festival when most of the line up is international and the concept is rock focused?”. Ben Barbaud sadly thinks that this summer will not be a good one for some styles of music, like rock or electronic. Some kinds of music work better or worse for a seated audience.

A lot of other events still need to make some decisions. Solidays, the festival that changes the world, already cancelled a week ago. Their priorities are to find a budget and solutions to really fight against AIDS and to provide help to their projects. They are considering organising a show on Television to find financing. Solidays generally earns around 3.5 million euros to develop their campaigns.

Solidays 2018 - © Raphaëlle Poisot
Solidays 2018 – © Raphaëlle Poisot

This summer is going to be different for most of the countries and festivals. For now, the majority of countries have already made some decisions. For example, Spain is considering waiting for the population to get vaccinated to host international tourists. There will at least be more events in 2021 than in 2020. Hopefully most of us will be enjoying at least one event this summer.

Music festival lover since my youngest age. Every year I'm trying to go to some more events, from France to Hungary passing by Spain or Belgium. I'm a French guy living in Spain, studying music industry, and trying to discover every day some new things. And most of the time listening to all kinds of music :)