Once again there is an impressive and varied line up of events for the annual Festival Francais de Portarlington which takes place from July 12 to July 14 which is Bastille Day, the annual French public holiday which is similar to St Patrick’s Day for us.
The Festival Francais is a celebration of the town’s French Heritage and Culture with an annual world snail eating competition, French food and wine tastings, arts, crafts, workshops, market village, street theatre, family fun and live music!
In the 17th century Portarlington was known as the Paris of the Midlands, a place where French rather than Irish or English was spoken. The town and surroundings are steeped in French Huguenot History and tourists who visit Portarlington can view many historic buildings like St. Paul’s French Church, Arlington House, Lea Castle, Emo Court and all the beautiful old houses that are built in the Huguenot style.
The Festival Committee organises this special event each year around Bastille Day which falls on the 14 July. The town is set ablaze with French and Irish colours and the history and culture are celebrated through all the events that are arranged over the weekend. The World Snail Eating Competition brings very enthusiastic competitors and visitors. There will also be arts, theatre, workshops, street entertainment, music and dance, sports day and water sports. Perfect for a family weekend of great entertainment and culture!
This year the organisers are incorporating “THE GATHERING” into the festivities and the theme will be “Welcome Home.” “We are inviting back to Portarlington all emigrants, relatives, and friends. We are asking for the help of the people of Portarlington and surrounding areas to extend this invitation and bring home your loved ones to make this a very special weekend ,” said a festival spokesperson.
The schedule of events for the Festival Francais is:
Friday July 12
An evening of celebration. Festival opening and Street Party welcoming home emigrants and visitors with music and dance, history, food, drinks and street entertainment including Almost Instant, Bang Bang, Tonight We Live and Hogan.
Saturday July 13
9am – Bog Wars Challenge
10am – Orienteering
11am-6pm – Festival Artisan Market Village
11am – Street Art Competition
2pm-4pm – Art Attack in the Scouts Den
4.15pm – Line Dancing Workshop in the Scouts Den
High Nellies, mini Tour de Port
6pm - Music
Sunday July 14
1.30am – 5K Fun Run/Walk
11am – Down by the River Barrow, French Church Street side, the 4
Scouts Group have an activities morning – build your own raft, join Napoleon’s fleet and sail from one bridge to the other (mixed teams of four). The Scouts will also be showing their cooking skills.
Planting of The Gathering Memorial Tree.
1pm – Pet Show
2pm – Movie Time
2pm-6pm – Bonny Baby competition
2.30pm-4pm – Buskermania
4pm – In The Square National Escargots Mangent concurrance (National Snail Eating Competition).
5.30pm – Turas
6pm – Barn Dance in The Square, music by Chris Loughrey.
Draw for raffle tickets.