Les Trans Musicales – a winter festival spreading light in the December darkness of French Brittany

5 min read

Les Trans Musicales – a winter festival spreading light in the December darkness of French Brittany

Text – Anna Brotkin and Hubert Grupa

Every year in December, something miraculous happens in the heart of la Bretagne, the French Brittany. This year, in the outskirts of the city Rennes, in an area full of huge aircraft halls, four stages were put up and 84 bands played to thousands of visitors. The festival is called Les Trans Musicales, or Les Trans like locals call it, and it has a history of 39 years already.


It is among the biggest festivals in France, with four scenes in the aircraft halls of Parc Expo and four in the city center of Rennes. There is something magical and unique in the view that opens in front of one’s eyes after spending 30 minutes in a bus driving through the pitch-black landscape of the industrial scenery outside Rennes. People enjoying music and life, lights flashing. All that brings us light in the dark December nights.

Washed Out_Hall 9_Samedi 9_┬®Nicolas Joubard_136A4116

During the years this 3-day festival has made a profile of being THE festival for emerging artists and bands. That is to say, many anonymous bands played a gig at Les Trans musicales and turned from being anonymous to big names in the music scene. These names includes bands such as Tin Tings, The Do, Portishead and Ben Harper.

This year’s edition was a real mosaic of genres and cultures. Bands from whole over the world, from Colombia to Indonesia, artists playing techno, hip-hop, kuduro and African jazz met on the same stages of the festival. Les Trans was like a music space station, where everything that was the most interesting was taken away. Everything that is worth showing to others. The association with the space station is not accidental – the stages located in Parc Expo looked like galactic portals through which listeners could move from one world to another and it often happened during the concerts.


The organizers of the festival presented a unique map showing the genre characteristics of artists performing at this year’s edition. The musicians have been divided according to several large families of genres, but we all know that this division is only illustrative. Performances were often a mix of many stylistics and influences. Even if we earlier listened to a few songs did not guarantee that we would hear the same at the concert. In most cases, the musicians surprised the audience by arranging their works in an unparalleled way. Thus, each of the performances, which took place during Les Trans, deserves to be called an exceptional one.

Referring to the topic of the cartographic map – the organizers perfectly prepared the visual setting of the festival. Throughout the city, posters informing about the event were everywhere. The characteristic color palette was so much visible that it was impossible to skip it.

Gili Yalo_Hall 8_Vendredi 8_┬®Nicolas Joubard_136A3168

For many artists, Les Trans was the first chance to play on such big stages. Fortunately, the excellent organization of the event, professional service support and spontaneous audience added them courage and wings and makes way to play an outstanding performances easier.  It is difficult to find the gigs this year that disappointed our expectations.

Concerts of artists whose works are the most difficult to determine with the use of standard genres enjoyed great popularity. Large audiences were attracted by such artists as Tchaïd, Altin Gün or Gili Yalo, who took listeners on a journey through unfamiliar areas of music. Non-obvious concerts were also accompanied by performances that from the very beginning were building a unique atmosphere. We are talking here about Washed Out or Midnight Revolution. There were also opportunities to dance. A number of excellent DJs and producers such as Zamilska, Ylia, Duke Hugh or Sabrina & Samantha provided long hours of dancing.

And when in France, do as the French do, meaning you must try some of the untraditional festival snacks offered at the venue, such as the fried, melting Camembert cheese. And while specifically in Brittany, don’t forget to try the local specialities: sweet and salty galettes with a  glass of local apple cider. Mjam to the food and to the music!