4 – 13 August
The annual Festival Interceltique Lorient, which is now in its 47th year, is dedicated to showcasing the cultural traditions of Celtic nations around the world. It is the largest Celtic festival in the world, taking place from 4 – 13 August in Brittany, France. Interceltique welcomes over 750,00 attendees into the heart of Lorient to view over 200 concerts from more than 4,500 artists.
Each year a Celtic nation is chosen as a country of honour at the festival, and this year Scotland was selected to receive this recognition. As a result, a large ‘Scotland Pavilion’ will be erected in the city to showcase the vibrancy, diversity and accessibility of Scotland’s live music scene. This pavilion will be free to enter and will feature high-quality music, food, drink and crafts from across the country, ensuring you are never far from Celtic influences.
This year the festival features the highest representation of Gaelic artists in mainland Europe, ever! Promotion of Gaelic language, music and culture is placed firmly at the heart of Scotland’s presence at Lorient, from the Scotland pavilion to several concerts during the festival featuring artists such as Runrig, Capercaillie and many more.
Highlights of the festival include two special shows – the Gala Opening Concert featuring an all-Scottish line-up produced by the HebCelt Festival and The Grand Night of Scotland concert curated by Donald Shaw the artistic director of Celtic Connections. The Grand Parade of Celtic Nations is another event not to be missed. Here you will see thousands of musicians, pipe bands and dancers parade through the city in national costume.
The entire city of Lorient plays a part in the festival, with beautiful buildings like the Palais des Congrès and the Grand Theatre becoming venues. These unique spaces will host music and dance, as well as art exhibitions and film screenings.
Charles de Gaulle, who visited Edinburgh in 1942, once famously proclaimed that the Scottish/French alliance was “the oldest alliance in the world” going on to say that “no people has ever been more generous than yours (Scotland) with its friendship”…
The relationship between Scotland and France is as old as it is strong. It’s a partnership forged on ancient battlefields that still remains intact today. Ties between the two countries stretch back centuries, the Auld Alliance, or ‘Vieille Alliance’ as it is known in France, was first agreed way back in 1295. Though the terms of this alliance have changed over time, the connection remains as solid today as it ever was.
Although principally a military and diplomatic agreement, the alliance has extended into the lives of Scottish and French people. Architecture, language, law and even food and drink has been heavily influenced in both countries thanks to this Auld Alliance.
The links between these two old friends remain just as strong today. In 2013 a cultural Statement of Intent was signed which committed to building upon our shared history. This agreement included promoting cultural events in each country that are aimed at highlighting the other’s creativity and heritage. As well as this, supporting collaboration between artists, fostering partnerships between cultural institutions and developing cultural exchanges were also included.
As a result of this agreement, many cultural partnerships have developed, and are flourishing. The National Performing Companies of Scotland and France have developed mutually beneficial relationships. Scottish Ballet has close links with the Conservatoire in Paris and work on occasion with a Ballet Master from Paris Opera Ballet. As well as this, French productions have become increasingly popular at the Edinburgh International Festival. In 2016 eight French productions took part in the EIF programme, including The Toad Knew, a mix of circus, dance and theatre.
Another excellent example of these connections at work can be found through Scottish company Live Music Now. They specialise in bringing music to a diverse range of people that rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to experience live music. Live Music Now France has now been set up based on Scotland’s model. Live Music Now France will continue to receive guidance and advice from its Scottish partner as it becomes more established. To help with this, a small team has been set up to support the development of Live Music Now in France.