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Celtic nations descend on France to celebrate shared ancestry

Expect big parades, plenty of pipes and a sort of Celtic ‘battle of the bands’ at the Brittany extravaganza

The Grande Parade des Nations Celtes is watched by thousands Pic: Jean-Noël Lévêque / Festival Interceltique

France’s Celtic roots are the focus of the hugely popular Brittany-based Festival Interceltique. 

It is an event that pays homage to all Celtic nations and attracts around 700,000 international visitors annually. 

50-year heritage

The festival takes place in Lorient and has been running since 1971 – last year was its 50th anniversary – and each year celebrates a different Celtic nation. This year was the turn of the Principality of Asturias in northern Spain. 

It runs for 10 days and nights every August, with this year’s taking place between August 5 and 14.

There was a packed schedule of around 200 events, including concerts, dances, film screenings, book readings, workshops, and many other events tied to Celtic culture. 

Around 4,500 performers descend on Lorient for the festival, drawing audiences from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Spain, the US, Australia and, of course, France. Many of the events are free but others are ticketed.

Map of Celtic nations

Celtic nations are wide-spread

Grande Parade

The Grande Parade des Nations Celtes usually takes place on the first Sunday of the festival, and is one of the highlights.

More than 3,000 musicians and dancers in traditional dress march through the streets, with thousands of spectators watching.

Equally worth looking out for is the Championnat des bagadoù, a Celtic battle of the bands. 

Related articles:

Visit one of France’s medieval festivals and reenactments this summer

Cadre Noir de Saumur: Discover France’s unique style of horse riding

Aveyron is home to the world’s biggest bagpipe collection

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