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Main Square Festival, France

Lynda Moyo speaks to the festival’s organisers about what we can expect this year

Written by . Published on April 20th 2011.

Main Square Festival, France

WITH Arcade Fire, Kasabian and the Chemical Brothers plus the only performance in France this year from Coldplay, Main Square Festival is gearing up to be a scorcher this summer.

Now in its eighth year, Main Square Festival 2011 will take place over the 1, 2 and 3 July in the picturesque surroundings of the Citadel in Arras.

ColdplayLynda Moyo caught up with festival organiser Armel Campagna to find out what we can expect from this year’s festival and why we should book our tickets now...

Set the scene of Main Square Festival, for those who have never been...

Main Square Festival is a musical event held in northern France that’s been taking place every July since 2004. Each year it offers the best contemporary music, carefully mixing upcoming artists with leading international artists.

We’ve had Radiohead, Coldplay, Muse, Lenny Kravitz and Placebo in the past and this year Coldplay, Linkin Park, Arcade Fire, Moby, Portishead and Queens Of The Stone Age are all on the bill.

It was first organised on the Grand Place d’Arras, and the festival now takes place in the grounds of the Citadelle d’Arras, a world heritage classified site that spreads over more than ten hectares, with a capacity for 40,000 spectators and two open air stages.

What’s the line-up looking like so far this year?

We’ve tried to go for the best of pop and rock music. We have the strongest international line up among all the French festivals, varying from big names like The Chemical Brothers, Kasabian, Beady Eye, Queens of the Stone Age, Limp Bizkit, Arcade Fire and of course Coldplay - they played the festival in 2009 and are coming back again this year for an exclusive French date. There’s also more indie stuff with The National, Kaiser Chiefs, PJ Harvey, Two Door Cinema Club, Jimmy Eat World and Cold War Kids.

We will also have some great soul artists this year, with Bruno Mars, Aloe Blacc to soul legend Charles Bradley, as well as new talent such as Warpaint, Everything Everything, Australian prog rock band Tame Impala and Belgium phenomena Selah Sue. We’ll also present some of the best new French artists such as Yodelice, Puggy and Shaka Ponk.

Electro acts will close the three nights with French DJ Martin Solveig, Magnetic Man and the legendary Underworld.Lire phonétiquement

KasabianHow and why did the festival start?

Northern France the intersection for three major European capitals: London, Brussels and Paris. The population is young, dynamic, urban and passionate about live music. For several decades, people just went to Belgian or British festivals.

In 2004, we decided to do something about that, so we started this festival, initially just for one day, then two nights and now three days. The festival found its rhythm with the collaboration of Herman Schueremans in 2008 - the creator of Werchter and Live Nation. Every year since then, the popularity has grown and the event attracts more and more people each year.

How long does it take to organise a festival of this magnitude?

It’s a long process. It takes a dedicated and passionate team a full year to organise and takes a lot of hard work and commitment to confirm the best artists on the planet, make the most out of the site and improve services from year to year for festival goers.

What's been the biggest highlight of Main Square Festival over the years?

Difficult question. The festival is young but there are already so many great memories. If I had to choose three best bits they would be Radiohead in 2008; Lenny Kravitz in 2009 and Rammstein's show at the last festival.

What do you think will be the highlight of this year?

I think people will be amazed by the Arcade Fire set. This band is growing into a stadium band and their third album got all the awards this year. Having The National and Kaiser Chiefs playing is also a real treat. I also think Portishead’s intimate show inside the Citadelle will be a blessing. But that’s the charm of the festival - you always get more than you expect.

Arcade FireIs it a family friendly festival?

We are becoming a family friendly festival. Maybe not for the 2011 run, but our goal is the have a proper kids’ festival in a private space with appropriate activities in the future.

What else is there to do in Arras?

Many things. Visit museums, historic monuments, casinos - the city is full of activity. It’s also just 20 minutes from Lille, 50 minutes from Paris, 1 hour 15 from Brussels, and less than two hours from London.

Do most people camp?

Many of our festival goers camp The camp is located in the citadel in the heart of a park, bordered by a creek and a pond. The area is specially equipped for the festival with many services and amenities such as toilets, hot showers and a small shop.

In 2011, the camp ground will be twice the size of last year, with a capacity of up to 10,000. It’s open from Thursday evening so people can arrive early. The festival's central location also gives our local festival goers the option to sleep in their own beds..

Is there accommodation nearby for those who don’t want to camp?

The town of Arras has many hotels in the city centre, but they fill up very quickly. People can also find hotels in Lille, which is just 20 minutes away. We’ve got an agreement with the train company to run special shuttle buses towards Lille every night after the last band. Special rates for festival goers are introduced each year, making the round trip less than 10 Euros per person.

MobyAnd finally, can we expect good weather?

Every year the sky has been beautiful and the atmosphere is scorching in these first days of summer.

Tickets for Main Square Festival start at 59 Euros for a one day pass and go up to 160 Euros for a three day pass with four nights camping.

For more information including the full line up, please visit www.mainsquarefestival.fr

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