The Festival Interceltique de Lorient (French), Gouelioù Etrekeltiek An Oriant (Breton) or Inter-Celtic Festival of Lorient in English, is an annual Celtic festival, located in the city of Lorient, Brittany, France. It was founded in 1971 by Polig Montjarret.
This annual festival takes place in the heart of the city every August and is dedicated to the cultural traditions of the Celtic nations (pays celtes in Brittany), highlighting celtic music and dance and also including other arts such as painting, photography, theatre, sculpture, traditional artisan as well as sport and gastronomy.
Participants come from Brittany, Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, Wales, Cumbria, the Isle of Man, Cape Breton Island, Galicia, Asturias, Acadia, and the entire Celtic diaspora.
SHOWCASE SCOTLAND EXPO negotiated a Year of Scotland at the Lorient Interceltique Festival in Brittany France 2017. The Focus is supported by, the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, Visit Scotland, TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland), Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Fèis Rois, Scottish Music Centre, British Council Scotland, TMSA (Traditional Music and Song Association) and HebCelt Festival. It is difficult to sum up how successful this event was on every level. The Scottish Pavilion exceeded all expectations and was "the place to be" at the festival. The Pavilion ran from 11am until late into the night every day of the festival and was busy for all the events. From step dance workshops with Sophie Stephenson at 11am to ceilidhs at 2am the tent was never quiet. We actually had to remove the back wall of the tent during the final weekend of the festival just to allow all the people who couldn’t get into the tent to have a view of the stage. The audiences were so enthusiastic for the Scottish bands that we had to reinforce the stage barrier and bring in extra security. During one of Elephant Sessions infamous performances the audience were going so crazy they actually broke the floor of the tent leading to some early morning emergency repairs for the production team. In addition to the Scottish Pavilion we invited the HebCelt Festival to curate the Gala Opening Concert which was attended by former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond as well as representatives of the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, VisitScotland and numerous dignitaries from Lorient city. The concert, which took place in the Grand Theatre of Lorient, featured a performance by Donald Shaw’s Scotland’s Wild Heart of some of the soundtrack to the BBC TV show of the same name in front of a huge screen showing footage from the series. There was also an appearance by Blasta, 4 female Gaelic voices specially brought together by the HebCelt Festival. This was followed by Tide Lines, Mischa MacPherson Trio and Elephant Sessions before Blasta brought the evening to a close with a performance of the unofficial Hebridean anthem ‘Eilean Fhraoich’ which brought the entire audience to it’s feet. The Grand Night of Scotland concert was held in the 5,000 capacity Espace Marine and was curated by Donald Shaw. We were delighted to be joined by Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs for this superb evening of Scottish music. After a welcome, in French, from Alan Morrison, Head of Music at Creative Scotland, the evening kicked off with Talisk, Breabach with the Prince Charles Pipe Band of San Francisco and Blazin’ Fiddles with guest vocals from Claire Hastings. The second half featured Fara followed by Capercaillie with guest appearances by Mischa MacPherson and Sophie Stephenson. The entire cast returned to the stage for an incredible finale which once again brought the huge crowd to their feet. In addition to all this two of the artists were invited to take part in the Interceltic Nights event which takes place in the Lorient FC stadium in front of an audience of 10,000. In addition this multi-media event is filmed by one of France’s biggest broadcasters and a highlights programme attracts an annual audience of around 3 million viewers. We were delighted to see two all female groups, Fara and Hecla officially become stadium acts with their participation in this event.
The Festival is the largest of its kind in mainland Europe with an average audience of 800,000 over ten days. We would like to thank the dozens of artists who replied to the open application to perform at the festival. 32 Scottish bands or solo artists performed at the festival overall. Scottish artists made up 20% of the overall programme at the festival. If you take the Breton artists out of the equation that figure rises to 50%. This represents the biggest presence of any international partner country at the festival. The stated aim of Showcase Scotland Expo is to further the live export opportunities for Scottish based artists working in the genres of folk, traditional, Scots, Gaelic, world and acoustic music. Although we clearly achieved this aim at Lorient, this event in particular went so much further than that. For the first time we were able to bring together the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, VisitScotland, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, TRACS, TMSA, HebCelt Festival, Scottish Music Centre and Fèis Rois to all sit around the table together and contribute hugely to this event. As well as financial support they all got involved on the ground in France and the event simply would not have been possible without them. We were aware that what we were asking the artists to do was a hard shift. Most of them were playing twice a day and sometimes more. For those musicians who were in more than one group it sometimes seemed like they were never off the stage. To help with this we assembled a fantastic team to make sure the artists were as well looked after as possible both onstage and backstage. As well as the Lorient Interceltic Festival we have to thank the Scottish Music Centre and Belhaven for their huge contribution to this. All of the artists who were part of the event told us how fantastic it was to get to perform again and again in the same setting and also to watch and learn from each other. It was great to watch the bands become more and more confident playing in front of a mostly French audience and attract bigger crowds each time they played. The feeling of being part of "Team Scotland" was something that everyone involved spoke about throughout the 10 days of the festival. The artists who were part of the official Showcase Scotland Expo events were Blasta, Blazin’ Fiddles, Breabach, Capercaillie, Charlie Grey and Joseph Peach, Claire Hastings, Elephant Sessions, Fara, Fèis Rois Ceilidh Trail, Hecla, Hò-Rò, Isle of Cumbrae Pipe Band, Methil & District Pipe Band, Mischa MacPherson Trio, Prince Charles Pipe Band of San Francisco, Ross Ainslie & Ali Hutton, Scotland’s Wild Heart, Sophie Stephenson, Talisk, Tannara and the TMSA Young Trad Tour