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  • Writer's pictureKate Woodman

le Festival du Chant de Marin à Paimpol - Sea Shanty Festival



Le dimanche dernier, je suis allée à Paimpol pour assister le Festival du Chant de Marin. Depuis mon arrivée en Bretagne en 2019, j’ai été curieuse au sujet de cet événement et j’ai voulu y assister. Mais à cause du Covid, cet été était la première fois que je peux y aller.


Last Sunday, I went to Paimpol for the semi-annual “Sea Chanty Festival.” Since 2019, when I first came to Brittany, I've been curious about this heavily-advertised event and have wanted to attend. But because of Covid cancellations, this summer was the first time I could go…..and I was not disappointed!

Le Festival du Chant de Marin de Paimpol est une manifestation musicale et maritime internationale qui, depuis 1997, a lieu tous les deux ans. Principalement dédiée aux chants de marins et aux bateaux anciens de toutes provenances, ce festival prend pour thème à chaque édition un continent ou une région, représentatifs des musiques des mers du monde. En 2023, le Festival du Chant de Marin prend pour thème « Escales italiennes », donc l'accent était sur les musiques populaires italiennes.


The Sea Shanty Festival is much more than a celebration of maritime music. Music is indeed the focal point, but also featured are tall ships and old boats from all over. Since 1997, this bi-annual event features the maritime music of a particular continent or region. This year the theme was Italian ports, so the emphasis was on Italian music, though I can't say I saw much evidence of this theme. In addition to performances on the 7 stages set up around the port, over 50 different groups performed throughout the day on the quays....everywhere you looked there was music, dance, food, drink, sailors, pirates. Images of the street performers I saw follow.....


But first, the harbor jam-packed with ships of all sizes.....never before seen it like this!

It was 1:30, so those lucky enough to be invited were lunching on incredible spreads set out on deck



The first band I encountered


La Cie Soñj performing an eclectic mix of medieval tunes on the quay


and for something completely different, OOZ Band....terrific brass tunes


Traditional Breton dancers....


And further down the quay, audience participation....


A pirate and friends dancing to the music.....


A group called the Golden Parachute takes its show on the road (or quay).....


Gondola rides.....a nod to this year's Italian theme....


Avec 7 scènes, 160 groupes, 2000 artistes, 200 bateaux traditionnels, 1000 marins et 165,000 festivaliers, le festival était vraiment spectaculaire !


With 7 stages situated along the U-shaped quays of the port, 160 music groups, 2000 artists, 200 traditional boats, 1000 sailors and 165,000 attendees, the festival was truly spectacular! It’s a 3-day event, from 10am to well after midnight each day. The weather has been for the most part cool and cloudy since I arrived in mid-July, but Sunday was warm and sunny….perfect day for strolling the quay, marvelling at the majestic masts of the tall ships, and listening to the toe-tapping sounds of one group after another .


Images of the groups performing on stage.....

Group Bord'all performing on one of the 7 stages....

These guys were really funny....


les Marins d'Iroise performing on a tall ship


Captivated audience.....


Les Souillés de Fond de Cale performing on the main stage


Main stage which included a large video screen (primarily, I think, for the much younger audiences at night when the rock bands perform)


And finally, the ships.....









I arrived at 1:30 and and left around 4:30, just barely scratching the surface of what the festival has to offer...must return in 2025.

A musician greets a friend.....









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