While the Léz’Arts Scéniques festival near Sélestat attracts visitors from around the globe it has essentially a local flavor: people come who have grown up in the area, know each other, have been to school together. This gives the festival a jovial atmosphere where many attendees come with most of their social circle and visitors are made to feel welcome. The 2012 festival took place 27-29 July and I was there for the final Sunday. The next morning most of Sélestat appeared to have taken the day off from work in order to recover from a hangover; the festival ended at 1:30 but the partying certainly didn’t.
Highlights from the program included Lyre le Temps, a trio who blend jazz, hip hop and electronic music with a touch of retro. They were one of the earlier groups performing on the festival’s one stage and were followed by a string of folk-inspired bands until the reggae section started with Tiken Jah Fakoly from the Ivory Coast. A heady atmosphere took over the crowd as Tiken was followed by Dr. Jimmy Cliff, night arrived and stars began to come out over the stage. Techno finished off the night with Birdy Nam Nam and Doctor P. After their turn on the stage the groups showed up in the VIP tent for a few private jam sessions. For those who could not get hold of a VIP ticket the festival offered a well-attended bar, a selection of food stands ranging from American-style grill to local specialties like Flammeküche and a relaxation area, where the grass was spread with carpets, pillows and ping pong tables.
Sélestat is located between Colmar and Strasbourg and, while not boasting as many tourist destinations, it is definitely worth a visit (hotel rooms in Sélestat here). The old town area is not in such pristine condition but the quaint buildings have their own charm as part of a small city that looks lived in rather than part of a museum. A walk through town the next day is a good way to balance off the festivities of the night before.