One of the best things about summer is letting your hair down and going to some of the many music festivals that are held annually in South West France. For many years music in South West France has been big business in music terms with Jazz Nights, Brass Bands and Blues Nights. Whilst many villages and towns hold their own music festival or music evenings it is the Gers department in southern south west France that holds the most famous of all music festivals.
During the summer months many villages and towns hold their own music festivals with dancing, food and all great fun for young and old alike. The most famous of Music Festivals are explained below and are an absolute must to visit if you are holidaying during July & August.
For a few days in July, the village of Mirande transforms itself into an American town. Apart from the Country Music there are also hot-air balloon flights, American cars, Harley-Davidsons, and endless other attractions and activities for all the family. The Country Music festival is legendry and recognized as the first Country Music festival in Europe and has attracted many American Country & Western starts plus the cast of Dallas who regularly attend. Music starts in the evening at 5 pm until dawn the following day. Mixed with the local people of Mirande, the gorgeous countryside and gastronomic pleasures of the Gers this festival is always well attended.
The sleepy town of Marciac a small town with a lovely big square is transformed by the Festival, with the main square hosting several stages. Almost every building turns into a restaurant or bar, many with their own live jazz. The quality of jazz is outstanding and several concerts each year are simply world class. The music winds down around 3am and the atmosphere is laid back and informal. The Jazz Festival runs for around 10 days and starts at the beginning of August. This enormous event, with the main concert hall getting bigger each year, now seats around 5,000 people.
The small town of Vic Fezenac is where the Tempo Latino Music Festival is held at the end of July with the best concerts normally held on Friday and Saturday nights. The town is turned into one great Latin & Afro-Cuban atmosphere where the bars and music run throughout the nights of the festival. As with Latin & Afro-Cuban music you can expect a lively time and perfect for all ages. The biggest concerts are in the Bull Ring and are fantastic! The main street becomes a huge market and the atmosphere is truly non-stop!!!
Other small festivals in the Gers can be found at Condom where the Festival de Bandas is in May and it’s held over the entire weekend. Up to 2000 musicians attend this event and it has been known to start as early as 6am when the first instrument is blown. The majority of the bands come from France with a few coming from Spain and Belgium. Brass band enthusiasts and those curious about brass can expect a great weekend.
Also in Condom is the Festival Africain and held in July. Apart from music there is an African market, Moroccan tea rooms and many other African specialities.