The Loire Festival 2019

Published on 31 July 2019 - Updated 03 September 2019

The 9th edition of the Loire Festival is to be held in Orléans from 18 — 22 September. This great gathering of river boatmen is held every 2 years to celebrate the Loire, its culture and its way of life. Over the 5 days of the festival, the banks of the river Loire in Orléans will accommodate 220 boats from the Loire and other French rivers, over 700 boatmen and close to 750,000 visitors!

Every year, a guest of honour is invited to the festival. This year’s guest of honour is England, and in particular the Thames and its canals; festival-goers will experience its flotilla and its boat culture. The region of canals in Flanders and Artois will also be represented andwillshare its traditions by means of fifteen traditional boats used to transport vegetable crops.  

The festival offers a number of festive and educational activities based on the river’s heritage, as well as a full arts programme. Here is a small selection: 

The port of Orléans and its villages

The Loire Festival recreates the port of Orléans as it would have appeared to the city’s residents in the 19th century, and presents the culture and know-how of its boatmen via: 

  • A number of thematic villages: the Loire boatmen; French rivers; the Orléans canal; the canals of Flanders and Artois
  • Traditional boat tours and boat trips on the Loire and on the canal

The festival’s headline events

  • Wednesday at 6 pm: the festival’s inauguration
  • Thursday: concerts from 8 pm (The Soul Dealers, followed by Madame Monsieur)
  • Friday at 10 pm on the river: “La Loire au temps de la Renaissance” (“The Loire at the time of the Renaissance”).This event evokes life on the Loire at the time of the Renaissance through the eyes, writings and emotions of a first-hand witness sitting on its banks: Leonardo da Vinci…
  • Saturday at 10.30 pm on the river: “Deliciously British”, a pyro-musical display created exclusively for the festival. Music, boats, boatmen and a firework display embark spectators on an extraordinary voyage to our neighbours across the Channel
  • Sunday from 3 pm on the river: grand parade of all the festival’s boats, followed by a concert by Renan Luce at 5 pm on the pontoon stage.

Discover World Heritage

But the Loire Festival is also an opportunity to discover or rediscover the Loire Valley World Heritage-listed area. Mission Val-de-Loire will be present during the festival with: 

  • The exhibition " Pêcher en Loire " (“Fishing on the Loire”) (Hélène Cadou Gardens, from18 — 22 September): fishing on the Loire is a very ancient practice. Regulated since the Middle Ages, it is rooted in history and is pursued by various stakeholders, all sharing a single watercourse. But this environment, in terms of both biodiversity and climate, is now undergoing vigorous evolution.
  • The exhibition " Plaisirs de Loire (1800-1970) " (“Pleasures of the Loire, 1800-1970”) (on the waterfront, from 18 — 22 September): from the middle of the 19th century until the late 1960s, the river was central to a number of leisure activities. Everywhere there were people bathing, canoeing, fishing, etc., when they were not simply watching a show or contemplating the river.
  • A daily lecture, from 18 — 21 September, 10.30 am – 11.30 am at the Bateau-Lavoir: the introductory lecture concerns "Le Val de Loire patrimoine mondial" ("The Loire Valley World Heritage-listed area") and will be given by Louis Marie Coyaud, editor of the List’s application package; the other 3 lectures will focus on the themes of development, trade and travel, echoing the episodes of the web series "Portraits of the Loire in the Renaissance", which will be shown at the same time.

In the meantime, all eyes will be on the weather in the hope that the level of the river Loire, already exceptionally low for the season, remains navigable for the boats! 

The programme is available at: http://www.orleans-metropole.fr/1016/programme.htm