Fêtes De Bayonne

Are you ready for a party? Because that’s what you’ll get with the Fêtes de Bayonne. Every year, the citizens of Bayonne (and any tourists that come to visit) all don red and white and enjoy a five day-long festival. The festival first started in 1932, after some of the Bayonnais from the local rugby club  tried to copy the San Fermin festival of Pamplona, their twinned city. Now the festival runs every year in July, accompanying the festivities of Basque day (July 14th).

Unlike the bull races at the San Fermin festival, the Fêtes de Bayonne involves racing against cows. Anyone who takes part is still advised to be careful though! There are also parades and a pelota (Basque handball) tournament to kick off the festivities. The Fêtes de Bayonne involves a celebration of things special to the region such as the sports, the delicacies, the traditions etc.

The festival is officially opened when King Léon, the symbol of the festival, presents the keys of the city to a celebrity. The king’s appearance is known as his awakening. The next day, he arrives with his courtiers: the Court Jester, the Marshal, the Chocolatier, the Housekeeper, the Doctor and the Favourite. These courtiers are all important emblematic figures. For example, the Chocolatier represents the gourmet tradition of Bayonne.

The festival only ends when the king “retreats to bed” five days later and a fireworks show brings the festival to a close.

Click HERE to discover more French traditions.