Vieilles Charrues: 30 years of highlights

Woodkid at Les Vieilles Charrues 2021
Woodkid at Les Vieilles Charrues 2021 © Sébastien Martinez

This year, France’s largest festival in terms of attendance celebrates its 30th anniversary! Since 1992, les Vieilles Charrues offers exceptional line-ups every year. Some moments have really made the history of the festival. Let’s take a look back at four of the most memorable moments of this internationally renowed event.

1. Muse: a torrential rain and a lot of emotions (2010)

Les Vieilles Charrues and Muse share some kind of a love story. The band led by Matt Bellamy has performed at the meadow of Carhaix four times up until now. The first time was as a “revelation” artist, in 2000. Ten years later, they are welcomed at Les Charrues as true world stars. In 2010, they’re performing in the pouring rain, which made the concert look like an apocalyptic scene. The band did not shy away and resisted cancellation, offering an anthological concert.

This scenario has been repeated several times in the wetlands of Brittany. In 2014, Gesaffeltein played a dark set in the middle of a thunderstorm, which gave the impression of a 360° concert. This remains one of the most impressive moments of the festival

2. The impressive Rammstein on the Main Stage (2013)

Rammstein
Foto: Bart Heemskerk

The 2013 edition will go down as a year marked by an unforgettable show. Rammstein arrived on the main stage on the first day of the festival. True to their reputation, their show featured pyrotechnics and songs sung at the top of their lungs by a horde of loyal fans screaming the name of Till Lindermann. For those who were there, Rammstein’s concert at Les Vieilles Charrues remains an unforgettable memory.

That same year, Neil Young, Carlos Santana and Phoenix, among many others, performed on the Main Stage. Once again, the programme is eclectic and perfectly represents the spirit of the festival.

3. Christine and the Queens: from revelation to headliner (2014)

Foto: Kamiel Scholten/Festileaks

The whole world has recognised the talent of French artist Christine and the Queens. Her meteoric rise was noted at the festival between 2014 and 2015. Like many festivals, Les Vieilles Charrues never programs the same artist two years in a row. Except for Christine. The first year, it was an intimate concert for the young artist. The second year, the festival’s main stage was packed with people to applaud her on stage. The artist is returning for a third time in 2019, but this time, her reputation is unquestionable.

4. The year of the pandemic (2021)

In 2021, the pandemic hits the Vieilles Charrues festival. While most French events are cancelled and many restrictions are still in place, the festival holds on. The director’s plan is clear: in 2021, there will be the Vieilles Charrues. Whatever the cost.

After a series of government announcements at the beginning of the year, it became clear: no standing concerts and no performances for more than 5000 people in the summer. Doesn’t matter: the festival will adapt. This year, the festival organised no less than ten days of smaller concerts. Although the artists are mainly national, the festival remains true to its reputation. The festival offered numerous unforgettable moments, such as the concert by Woodkid, whom we met for an interview.

Each year has its own theme

Vieilles Charrues 2019
The 2019 poster of Vieilles Charrues, with ‘Carnival’ as an overarching theme.

Les Vieilles Charrues stands out. It is not a festival like the others. Every year, festival-goers arrive dressed in a different way, according to the proposed themes. Over the years, the festival has had a lot of creative themes, like “Superheroes” (2012), “Gauls” (2013) or “Retrogaming” (2016).

Vieilles Charrues 2022

Vieilles Charrues
Vieilles Charrues at night – Photo by Mathieu Ezan

Les Vieilles Charrues is a big French Festival that takes place in Brittany, a very typical region of France, famous for it’s crêpes – amongst many other things. Over the past 30 years, Les Vieilles Charrues have succeeded in growing from a small, local festival to an internationally recognised event. With Hellfest, Vieilles Charrues is the biggest festival in the country that can host around 70.000 festival goers every day. Several legendary artists like Bob Dylan, Carlos Santana, Justice, Phoenix, Rammstein or Muse played there in the past.

For 2022, the programme is already available. We will be able to see a.o. Angèle, Stromae, Queens of the Stone Age, Fontaines D.C or Madeon. The festival will take place in Carhaix, French Brittany, from 14 to 17 July 2022.

For those who like to plan ahead: in 2023 Céline Dion will also be there!