The Inter-Celtic Festival of Lorient (or Festival Interceltique de Lorient, in French) is a Celtic themed music and arts festival taking place in the Brittany town of Lorient every summer. Each year, the spotlight is put on one of the Celtic nations of the world, invited as the guest of the event.
1. The Inter-Celtic Festival is otherworldly
You don’t need to be a super Celtic culture nerd to enjoy your time at the Inter-Celtic Festival. Some people wear traditional outfits, but it’s not going to make you feel awkward and it’s pretty fascinating to see other cultures being embodied like this. The music is everywhere, and music is everything when it comes to setting the mood! Just by walking along the port, by the little tents dedicated to this or that region, you will be transported to another time, a magical and Celtic one. For a few hours or two weeks, you can breath, eat, drink, hear and dance Celtic. And this is one thing to experience in a lifetime.
2. The easy-going atmosphere
Truth is, it was not my first time at the Inter-Celtic Festival. And one of the main reasons why I wanted to go back while we were in Brittany and bring Simone with me was the fantastic atmosphere. It’s probably the most easy-going event that I’ve been to and I knew that we would both have a great time. Everyone is nice and goes to the festival to have a bit of fun and enjoy this yearly cultural gathering. It’s a really happy festival and I think the joyous Celtic music has a huge part in it, as well as the values conveyed by Celtic traditions. Camaraderie, welcoming strangers, helping others, sharing,.. you can only love it!
The locals blend with tourists and people who came specifically for the festival, and everyone gets together to share their love, interest or curiosity for the Celtic world.
People who don’t know each other hang around together in good spirit to dance their traditional dances, sing their favorite tunes, cheer over a pint… Are you convinced yet?!
3. The Celtic music, arts and crafts
Wether you know all there is to know about Celtic arts, or if it’s something you’d like to discover, it is the Inter-Celtic Festival’s mission to highlight music, dance, crafts and traditions of the Celtic nations. On top of what you can see while strolling around the center of the city, there are fascinating conferences, master classes, competitions, demonstrations, shows, concerts,…
You can just let yourself be carried away by what’s going around, or you can become an expert in everything Celtic in a fortnight. Your choice! Enjoying the atmosphere, going to concerts at night and catching the Grand Parade of Celtic Nations can be as fun as attending all of the bagpipe masterclasses and competitions, depending on where your interest lies.
4. Diversity – how to travel the world in one place
The Inter-Celtique Festival is not just about France, Brittany or the French part of the Celtic culture. You can of course find some beautiful testimonies to the love of the French for their Celtic origins with, for example, one of my favorite things to go watch: the fest-noz – where the Britons go and dance their traditional dances with live music.
However, the whole point of the Inter-Celtic Festival is to be INTER Celtic, which means that Celtic traditions, musics, dances and crafts of every Celtic nations of the world (including the Celtic diaspora) are showed, with one different guest nation highlighting the festival each year. Did you know there were also Celtic regions in Canada? In Australia? There you go, different traditions with one Celtic cultural root all over the world… and they’re all gathered at the festival!
You’ll see tartans from everywhere, hear music performed by artists from all over, treat your eyes with unknown dances from far away… you didn’t expect you’d go that far through time and space by staying in Lorient, did you?!
5. It’s so affordable
The Inter-Celtic Festival is for every budgets, and that makes it one hell of a great event to assist.
If you’re totally broke, you can live the experience for free and go around the little tents of the “village”, to hear some music, see bands perform, eat some food, buy some crafts, and just have a lot of fun during the day. However at night you won’t be able to get in anymore and will miss on some amazing live shows and crazy atmosphere. Let’s not forget that the Grand Parade – an iconic part of the Festival happening on the first Sunday and watched by almost 2 million people on TV! – is also accessible for free. Just be sure to be super early and to find a place sheltered (from the sun or the rain or both depending on the years!) because all the festival go-ers AND the people of Lorient and around will definitely be there!
If you have a few euros to spare, buy the “badge” for 5€ which gives you access to these parts at any time, plus a few extras like some conferences, shows, etc. It’s also a nice collector item: my dad keeps all of his with all his Celtic stuff on a shelf (or twenty) at home. This year it was a cool dragon!
If you’re in to live it to the pulp, it will still be pretty cheap for a festival. Some shows, including the “nuits celtiques” (Celtic nights) can be a bit more expensive, but they’re totally worth it. Going to one of the Celtic nights during the festival is a great experience and the way to really take the measure of what Celtic tradition and culture is about. It’s fun and pretty long, so you won’t regret spending your money.
This post has been brought to you thanks to the press pass provided by the Festival, and my opinions are strictly my own. Although I’m totally biased because I’m a HUGE Celtic culture nerd, sorry not sorry!