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France's Bayonne festival falls victim to Covid-19

Crowd gathers in front of Bayonne's town hall, southwestern France on July 24, 2019, during the opening ceremony of The 'Fetes de Bayonne'.
Crowd gathers in front of Bayonne's town hall, southwestern France on July 24, 2019, during the opening ceremony of The 'Fetes de Bayonne'. © AFP/Iroz Gaizka
2 min

One of Europe’s biggest festival in the south-west town of Bayonne won’t take place this summer because of the health situation in France, town's mayor has said.

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"It was common sense that the celebrations (scheduled from 28 July to 2 August) could not be held this summer, as the health situation in France will not allow it," said Bayonne’s mayor Jean-René Etchegaray.

At the end of July each year, around one million people visit the Bayonne Festival in southern France - the event features everything from live music and parades to games for children and fireworks.

The festival also features one controversial activity as at the weekend, bullfighting is a prominent part of the festival.

The opening ceremony of the 'Fêtes de Bayonne' in front the city hall on July 25, 2018.
The opening ceremony of the 'Fêtes de Bayonne' in front the city hall on July 25, 2018. IROZ GAIZKA / AFP

The event, which sees participants dressed in a sea of red and white, has been described as one of the biggest and wildest parties in all of Europe. 

"Perhaps we can consider having the festival later, in October or November. And at the same time, outside the summer context, what is its identity?", adds Etchegaray.

Other festivals cancelled

Since President Emmanuel Macron announced on 13 April that "major festivals and events, with large audiences, cannot be held until at least mid-July", several major festive and cultural events such as the Avignon theatre festival, the Francofolies (scheduled for 10-14 July) or the Vielles Charrues (scheduled for 16-19 July) have been cancelled in France.

The Cannes film festival, which was planned for May, was called off on 19 March, and organisers had imagined rescheduling for end of June, but with the new announcement it will likely be cancelled altogether.

The Bayonne festival is a major touristic and commercial event for the Basque coast's economy.

(with AFP)

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