The Bayonne Festivals | History and Program

After the canceled editions of 2020 and 2021, the Bayonne festivals return in 2022 from Wednesday July 27 to July 31 in the heart of Bayonne to continue the tradition started almost 100 years ago. Find here the history and the complete program of this legendary event.

Bayonne festivals


The history of the Bayonne festivals

The first edition of the Fêtes de Bayonne dates back to 1932, when a group of rugby players proposed to create a party that brought people together at the Sanfermines in Pamplona.

With the support of the municipality at the time, this famous group of friends set up a series of festivities: music, local games, parades and cow races.

Evolution over the years

First of all, the throwing of the 3 keys of the city in 1947, carried out by big stars like Johnny Hallyday, Bernard Lavilliers or even Yannick Noah (at the beginning it was the mayor).

In 1987 the tradition of King Léon was born. A gang of young people, the Batsarous, decide to elect a king in order to have an equivalent to the “Queen of the Holidays”. The choice then falls on an emblematic figure of the time: Léon Dacharry. Today, King Léon is considered the emblem of the festival, and his mascot sits on the balcony of the town hall.

The Bayonne Festival poster

Since 1955, the Fêtes de Bayonne have been announced, among other things, by the disclosure of an original artistic poster. Since 2004, everyone has been free to submit their own poster thanks to a competition that begins in November.


The 2022 Bayonne Festival program

The 5 days are busy! The festivities can be separated into 9 main parts:

Opening and closing ceremonies

On the first day of the event, at the start of the night, the chimes accompanied by the traditional throwing of the keys to the city mark the start of the festivities. Then, every holiday, King Leon is awakened at 12 noon.

On the last Sunday, at midnight, a fireworks display closes the Bayonne Festival.

Sporting Events

Many sports activities are offered throughout the holidays: competitions, championships, demonstrations... Traditional and unconventional sports and games are included (the stride of the festayre, the Master of the Holidays, the Nive en Fêtes, the Triath'drôle) .


The Bayonne Festival also includes 3 parades:

  1. The Parade of the Court of King Leon
  2. The Official Holiday Parade
  3. The luminous corso

Cow races and bullfights

In the center of Place Saint-André, if you don't feel like going down in the middle of the fray (because the danger is real), you can of course enjoy the show from the stands!

The Festivals also offer two bullfights: one classic and the other on horseback.

Sunday Mass

On Sunday, a mass is held in the Saint-André church: the Mass of the Bandas. To participate, white and red clothing is mandatory!

Music and concerts

More than 40 groups made up of a few dozen musicians (bandas) continually move through the streets to ensure the good atmosphere. Traditional Basque dances accompanied by musicians are also to be discovered everywhere. Larger stages welcome renowned artists and bands!

children's day

Children's Day allows young people to participate in festive activities created especially for children: parade of small Giants, tastings, awakening of the king, throwing of keys...


The restaurants increase the number of tables and offer “special holiday” dishes made from local products. You can also attend the World Chilli Omelette Championship.


Bayonne Festival 2022: Information

Dates and times: From Wednesday July 27, 2022 to Sunday July 31, 2022

Fees : 10 € per person.

Free for residents of Bayonne, people working in the secure perimeter, under 16s, as well as on Wednesdays and Thursdays.