This November sees the third Sunshine Renault Bonjour French Festival, which brings the best of France and French Culture to the Gold Coast. Celebrated over two days and two nights in Broadbeach, the program includes music, French markets, live entertainment, history and a French Film night.
Festival organiser Audrey Mates-Bills remembers how it all started.
“The festival was created by Julia Baber and myself over a meeting in Broadbeach. I wanted to organise a French market with entertainment in Emerald Lakes and she had this idea of a festival in July. After a few conversations we decided that a festival will be great, but in November. For the first edition it took us 18 months to put it together. A festival is a big machine she takes a while before she can move forward!”
The event has become one of the major events of the Gold Coast and prides itself to bring more diversity every year. Thanks to the Academy of Design, the event will allow attendees to discover the variety of French speaking countries around the world through a Body Art Parade which will kick off the Veolia Rouge Night on Saturday night. It will be followed by French Can-Can dancers and a 17-piece international Big Band from New Caledonia, Blue Blanc Blues.
In addition the event hosts a range of family friendly activities, with a special Bonjour Kids Corner, arts and crafts and educational activities for the littlies.
13 November 2016 will mark the first anniversary of the Paris attacks and the organisers have decided to hold an official memorial ceremony so together we can all stand for freedom and show the love that we have for one another. Also following the most recent tragedy in Nice, the festival will have a condolences book at the information tent to pay tribute to the victims and their families.
From the first year doubling its expected attendee rate, the festival has grown into the biggest French celebration of the Gold Coast, attracting big names such as Sunshine Renault, Air Calin and Gold Coast City Council.
Audrey recalls the difference the event has made within the Gold Coast’s French community.
“Since at that time there wasn’t much for the French community the festival became the French hub, the missing link to them. Once a year all the expats or long term residents / citizens born in France knew their culture would be celebrated and we think that s important. It brings them a sense of value and worth within their community.”
“We are now more than 5000 French living on the GC and it keeps growing.”
The festival is run by a dedicated team of 15 volunteers who work for nine months straight to get the event together. Visit bonjourfrenchfestival.com.au for more information.
The Bonjour French Festival runs from 11 – 13 November 2016 in Kurrawa Park, Broadbeach.