France's wildest festival gets underway amid tight security

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One of France's most famous festivals kicked off on Wednesday and promises to be as wild and raucous as ever, despite the tight security. We take a closer look at the Fêtes de Bayonne.

What's red and white and runs for five days?

France's wildest festival gets underway amid tight security

The Bayonne Festival of course - better known in French as the Fêtes de Bayonne. And it begins on Wednesday July 27th.

Around one million revellers will put aside their fears over terror attacks and put on something red and white to attend France's wildest festival. However many object to the bullfighting aspect of the festivities.

So what exactly is it?

The Fêtes de Bayonne is a five-day festival in south western France that is known for being a blur of parades, dancing, and good food.

Andy Fisher, a guide from the local tourist office, says the event is quickly becoming "one of the biggest festivals on the planet".

"There's everything you could want in a festival and a huge variety of activities. It's a real excuse for a good knees-up for all generations," the New Zealander told The Local.

The event, which runs until July 31st, typically draws up to a million people - all encouraged to wear white clothes together with red scarves, sashes, and hats.

France's wildest festival gets underway amid tight security

Will it be the same Bayonne festival as usual or have terror fears impacted it?

There's no doubt terror fears will be on the minds of the organisers and French authorities if not the revellers themselves. But everyone was keen for it to go ahead and once the decision was made not to cancel it, everyone will be determined to make it a success.

"We have taken into account the increased threat, but we have no evidence at this stage that we should cancel the festival," local police chief Pierre-André Durand said recently.

He added that cancelling it would be "giving in to terrorists", reported France Bleu.

However there will be some changes. For a start 1,900 forces of law and order will be on duty, although that's reportedly only 100 more than usual.

The special day for children the Journée des enfants, when a huge picnic takes place at midday, featuring games and clowns, has however been cancelled and the opening cermeony on Wednesday night has been scaled down.

However the annual omelette competition will go ahead as planned.

So what can we expect?

Each day will be jam packed with activities including parades of illuminated floats, traditional songs and dances, food and drink stalls in every direction, music concerts, and bull running.

At nights, festival goers are known to dance, spin, and often stumble from peñas to peñas (neighbourhood clubs) in a sea of sound and movement that lasts until the early hours of the morning.



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