One of France’s main music festivals at risk of closure

‘If nothing changes the 2024 edition could be the last’ say organisers of Les Vieilles Charrues

A view of people at a festival cheering an outdoor stage
Les Vieilles Charrues is one of France’s biggest music festivals but organisers say it is at risk
Published Last updated

Organisers of one of France’s biggest music festivals have warned it could be at risk of closure, and that the 2024 edition could be the last.

The organisers of the Les Vieilles Charrues festival in Brittany have claimed that a series of decisions by local authorities in the relevant communes are putting the festival at risk.

The festival is held in Kerampuilh meadow in Carhaix-Plouguer (often known as just Carhaix), in Finistère. The 2024 event is scheduled to take place from July 11 to 14, and has names on the line-up such as David Guetta, Sam Smith, Sting, Kings of Leon, PJ Harvey, and Yungblud.

In 2023, a record 346,000 people attended.

The festival was first held 32 years ago in 1992, in the small village of Landeleau (also in Finistère).

But in a statement organisers now claim that “recent decisions by the municipality of Carhaix and the Poher community” have jeopardised the future of the festival, and that “if nothing changes between now and summer, the 2024 Les Vieilles Charrues could be the last”.

Building sale

One such decision, they say, has included the selling of a building - the former consular chambers - that is located in an area typically used for the main entrance to the festival.

Organisers say that they had expressed an interest to purchase the building, but the council reportedly signed an agreement with a third party in December, and the new owners will be moving in this summer.

Meadow bill

The festival group also takes issue with a bill of €367,000 from the council - which it says was sent in mid-April “without consultation” - for “the use of the Kerampuilh meadow, buildings and the provision of municipal staff". 

This bill is "excessive and unfair", organisers say.

Forced move

In the same press release, Les Vieilles Charrues claimed that the Poher council decided in March to “no longer make available half of the land occupied by the festival's campsites from 2026”. This, they say, will force them to move these long-established sites.

They have felt subjected to relentless pressure from local councils, the organisers say, with officials making decisions “without full knowledge of the facts", and “constantly changing their mind”.

‘Save the festival’

The accumulation of these decisions is leading us to a dead end, they said, and ended with “an appeal to the elected representatives of central Brittany to save the festival”.

The organisers say that they do not understand the opposition as the festival brings - they claim - considerable benefits to the area, including “over €2 million in donations”, tourism spend, work opportunities, sponsorship deals for local businesses, and shows for local groups.

Mairie response

The mayor of Carhaix and chairman of the Poher community, Christian Troadec - who himself was one of the original founders of the festival - has said that the event organisers are “playing politics” and engaging in “blackmail”. 

He told the AFP that the organisers had been well-informed of many of the facts they are complaining about, and said that the festival has been aiming to become ever-more “gigantic” and more consumerist in recent years.

“They have lost the spirit of the festival,” he said. “There is no one left who was on the original team. They have emptied it out.”

He continued: "We're delighted with the cultural and media impact of Les Vieilles Charrues, but we don't want this to be at the detriment of other economic development projects in Carhaix and Poher, nor at the cost of privatising the Kerampuilh site for their sole benefit.”