FESTIVALS AND EVENTS 2016
Starts January 9th - Flea Market. 'Puces de Brest'. Puce is French for flea so this is a flea market held on the 2nd Saturday of every month (8am - 6pm) in the streets around the covered market of Les Halles Saint-Louis. The residents of Brest turn out their attics and bargain hunters can unearth odds and ends and the odd gem by rummaging through everything from 1950s gramophones to old records, 18th-century plates, books, clothes and more. Cost: Free - except for what you buy!
March-December. Strawberry Museum! Any strawberry buffs out there? This slightly odd museum boasts 10 exhibition rooms containing everything you would ever want to know about this beautiful fruit (la fraise), from the discovery of the white strawberry to every method of cultivation and the hanging gardens. If you're lucky they might even be offering samples of the luscious fruit, or strawberry liqueur. The museum is in Plougastel-Daoulas on Rue Louis Nicholle, entry fee is 5€ for adults, 3€ for 11-18 yrs, (free to under 11's).
Easter week-end - (Sunday April 5th) Le Printemps de Châteauneuf-du-Faou. Celtic Folklore Festival. An important gathering of musicians and traditional singers. Over 80 bell-ringers, musicians and singers perform non-stop in a friendly and informal atmosphere, with over 5,000 people of all generations who come together for 8 hours of musical pleasure and discovery in La Salle Ar Sterenn in Chateauneuf du Faou. Entry €10. Doors open at 3pm, close at 3am.....
June 12th - Strawberry festival at Plougastel-Doulas - Come and see and taste everything to do with strawberries......another opportunity to see the Breton National Dress in all its glory
June 26th - Bagpipe festival in the woods! At Menez-Meur from 10am, A great day out, take a picnic and sit in one of the woody glades.
July 10th - 'Petite Tromenie', Locronan. One of the oldest pardons (religious festivals) in the country. Thousands of pilgrims in sumptious costumes, carrying brocade and silk banners and singing Breton songs start a procession at 2.30pm and march through the sacred forest of Nemeton for 6km marching from one site to the other via corn fields, across makeshift bridges and streams, ending at Locronan mountain.
MARITIME FESTIVAL - Brest. Spectacle of the year! Every sailor and sea dog worth their salt descends on Brest for this unforgettable experience. This international festival, held every 4 years (2016 is the next one) is a truly sensational gathering of the world's most beautiful ships, setting 7km of quays ablaze. Over 3000 craft gather for the week; races and regattas are held daily but the focus is on living maritime heritage through sail, folk music, maritime art and much, much more. See the many fine replicas of the world's most historic vessels, ship-building workshops, seafood marquees, amazing pipe bands. Full-scale festivities will cover six days, and include firework displays and concerts every evening. Check out their website here.
July 19th-24th - 'Festival de Cornouaille' is Brittany's biggest celebration of Breton culture, the 91st this year. Concerts and street parades by proud Bretons in their distinctive costumes and street musicians bring to life every July. Cornouaille (literally Cornwall) was the name of a medieval duchy of which Quimper was the capital. The festival began in 1922 as a means to revel in all that is special about the Breton way of life. You'll see Frenchmen playing bagpipes.............!!?? Festival hours are 10am-7pm and although the street music is free, there are some ticketed events at various prices.
First week of August - 'Le festival de la Baie' is a celebration of World Music and Dance held in Concarneau. This 5-day festival attracts more than 500 performers from several countries, ranging from local Breton groups to dancers from as far away as China, Bolivia, Russia and even Rwanda. 2015 is the 35th year of the festival and the organisers deliberately aim to present as diverse a programme as possible. There is also a huge crafts fair with jewellery, rugs, clothes, pottery and musical instruments from countries including Brazil, India, Peru and Bali.
Dates TBA - Thursdays in the Port. Every Thursday during the summer months, the town of Brest invites locals and visitors to a colourful carnival in the port where music and good food are served up in equal measures. There's always a selection of live music, from reggae to Cuban, Indian and Romanian bands, as well as typical Breton music known as Fest Noze. There are activities for all the family and local delicacies can be sampled from one of the many stalls that are set up for the occasion. It's held in the 'Port de Commerce' and starts at 7.30pm until 12.30am (gates close at 9.30pm). Entry is Free.
July 29th-31st - Jazz weekend. This spectacular International Jazz Festival at Châteauneuf du Faou is taking place again, and as ever it will be a festival more like Woodstock than Glyndebourne! From 10.30am on Saturday 30th there's free jazzz around the village followed by a cabaret and Hog Roast under a marquee in the evening. Then on Sunday 31st July there’s the big event with jazz from 18 groups and over 80 musicians in four venues all within a three minutes walk of each other along the banks of the beautiful Aulne river. See their website here.
Good Time Jazz. Pontadig, Bar Tal Ar Pont, Chateaneuf du Faou. Lively, festive dixieland jazz in a great atmosphere. Monthly on Sundays, 4pm - 7pm]
August 5th-7th - This amazing music festival 'Festival du Bout du Monde' attracts upwards of 20,000 people to rural Brittany, making the most of its idyllic location on the peninsula Presqu'Ile de Crozon, which translates as 'Crozon-nearly an island'. Now in its 15th year, the festival attracts an impressive international line-up - at time of writing (January) the lineup hasn't been released. A one day pass is €33 available all over the area but the easiest thing is to buy them from the Irish bar 'Le Donegal' in Le Faou. See their website for more info and this year's artistes.
August 3rd - Festival of Gorse Flowers at Pont Aven, (40-minute drive). A great chance to see the magnificent National Dress of Brittany, bagpipers and Breton dancing. Have a look at this short video.
August date TBA -The 'Fête du Menez Hom' festival of folklore and painting takes place in the picturesque seaside town of Plomodiern in the heart of the Menez Hom region, rich with local traditions. 10.30am-11pm.
August 12th-15th - 'Fête de Filets Bleus' (Festival of Blue Nets), Concarneau was started in 1905 to help the fishermen during the sardine crisis. This free Festival celebrates everything that is strictly 'Breton' about Brittany, a region which regularly strives to prove its independence and difference with regard to the rest of France. Aside from speeches in the local dialect, visitors can expect plenty of women in traditional costume, bands playing Celtic music, fishing displays and the mandatory portions of fresh seafood and galettes, particularly during Sunday's procession (10am-12pm) through the centre of town. All washed down, of course, with delicious local cider.
- Locals in National Costume can be seen throughout Brittany at all festivals and celebrations -
August 20th-21st- Every summer the sea port of Roscoff, perched on the northern coast of Brittany's rugged coastline, celebrates the watery-eyed delights of the humble (yet striking) pink onion at the Fête de l'oignon rosé.
November - The third Thursday in November is always a special day throughout France; it marks the official tasting of the new season's Beaujolais wines.................
December - Place de la Liberte, next to the Mairie's (Mayor's) office. Brest Christmas Market: Over 40 stall holders selling luxuries for the Christmas table, many types of Breton crafts and of course plenty of 'vin chaud' (hot spiced wine) will be flowing. The choral society are also on hand with renditions of popular carols at the weekends. The place to do your Christmas shopping! What could be more fitting than spending Christmas in the country that invented the Christmas tree! (1605 in Strasbourg)
Laser games: Click here to go straight to their website giving opening times and address.
Paintballing in Brest - Click here for their website.
Assault-course type activities in Brest - Click here for their website.
Quad-biking 15 mins away: Rando-quad.
Bank Holidays in France. Note that they're not always on Mondays as in the UK.