Fêtes de Bayonne
The fêtes de Bayonne is a ‘feria’ (fair) consisting in a series of festivals in the Northern Basque Country in the town of Bayonne, France. The festival lasts 5 days and always starts the Wednesday before the first Sunday of August.
Bayonne would not be Bayonne without the famous Bayonne festival! The festival opens with a ceremony at 10pm on a Wednesday as it has done so since 1932. It is the largest festival in France. In the eighties, participants started to dress in white with a red scarf and a red belt after the colours of the city of Pamplona. Some rare purists prefer to wear blue and white, colours of the city of Bayonne however no matter what colours are worn you are guaranteed a contagious party atmosphere.
The Bayonne Festivities were first held in 1932. It was instigated by a group of friends belonging to the Aviron Bayonnais rugby team. They wanted to create in Bayonne, celebrations similar to those of San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain.
At midday every day when the King of the festival, King Léon wakens, festivities start and continue throughout the day with Bandas (traditional bands), floral processions, floats and parades of giant papier-maché figures and floats, bull-runs on Place St André, Pelota tournaments in the Trinquet Moderne... Everyone everywhere is in a festive spirit!
In addition, every year the organizers' desire to make these celebrations a popular event materializes in a large poster competition. All the volunteers are encouraged to present their posters of the Bayonne Festivities and, after a first selection, the most beautiful ones are submitted to a public vote (on the official website of the event).
As night falls a festive euphoria takes hold of people of all origins, cultures and languages in the crowded bars, restaurants and stalls lining the River Nive. Cheerfull festayres (revellers) swarm from one Peña to the the next all through the night.
The Peñas Bayonnaises who have signed a charter with the City benefit from the Peña label and are awarded a badge on the facade of their establishment, a sign of respect for their commitments: premises meeting safety standards, proven involvement in the life of the city, welcoming live music, respect for the neighbourhood and the fight against noise pollution.