Fêtes de Bayonne

The city of Bayonne (in Basque Baiona) is located in the far southwest of France. Its citizens make very good ham. But the tradition that make the locals especially proud is their Fêtes de Bayonne. This festival starts on the Wednesday before the first Sunday in August. It lasts five days. In 2014 the festival is held from the 23th to 27th of July.

The first Fêtes de Bayonne was held on the 13th of July, 1932. It was called The big summer festival. Its formation was initiated by the group of players in the Aviron Bayonnais rugby club. They tried to create a festival that would be similar to the San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain.

On Wednesday morning at 9 o'clock there is the Foulée du Festayre race that starts from the Côte des Basques Beach in nearby tourist resort of Biarritz. Between 10 and 11.30 am people enjoy in the Omelette aux Piments World Championships held at the city market.

Fêtes de Bayonne
Fêtes de Bayonne

At about 10 pm, the keys of the town are thrown from the city hall to the people gathered in front of it. They wear white clothes, red scarf and a red belt. These are the colours of Pamplona. The symbol of the festival is the King Leon. His figure is placed at the balcony of the city hall.

On Thursday there are many events dedicated to children. Encierro Txiki is the special bull run with bulls on wheels. Bulls figures are made of papiermache. There is also the Choco Yamboun which celebrates the delicious chocolate made in Bayonne.

On Friday you can enjoy in the matches of traditional sport called the pelote basque (in Basque eusko pilota). From Friday to Sunday those interested can participate or just observe the bull running. Maybe you could call it the cow running as people actually run in front of cows.

The main Saturday event is the spectacular parade of drummers knows the tamborrada. In the evening there is a big carnival parade. On all festival days there are numerous concerts.

Sunday is the day dedicated to the Bayonne's twin city Pamplona. The marching bands attend the mass in the church of Saint Andrew. On the sunday afternoon there is a bullfighting event or corrida, as it is also called. The festival ends with beautiful fireworks.