Fest-Noz, festive gathering based on the collective practice of traditional dances of Brittany

Inscribed in 2012 (7.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Yves Defrance
Fest-Noz is a festive gathering based on the collective practice of traditional Breton dances, accompanied by singing or instrumental music. The strong Breton cultural movement has preserved this expression of a living and constantly renewed practice of inherited dance repertoires with several hundred variations, and thousands of tunes. About a thousand Fest-Noz take place every year with participants varying from a hundred to several thousand people, thousands of musicians and singers and tens of thousands of regular dancers. Beyond the practice of the dance, the Fest-Noz is characterized by an intense camaraderie among the singers, musicians and dancers, significant social and intergenerational diversity, and openness to others. Traditionally, transmission occurs through immersion, observation and imitation, although hundreds of devotees have worked with tradition bearers to compile the repertoires and lay the groundwork for new modes of transmission. Today, the Fest-Noz is at the centre of an intense ferment of musical experiences and has spawned a veritable cultural economy. Many meetings are held between singers, musicians and dancers from Brittany and different cultures. Moreover, many new inhabitants of Breton villages use Fest-Noz as a means of integration, as it is heavily implicated in the sense of identity and continuity of the people of Brittany.