Hellfest (French music festival)

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Hellfest 2011.jpg
Logo for the 2011 edition.
Genre Heavy metal, extreme metal, punk rock, hard rock
Dates Mid-June
Location(s) Clisson, France
Years active 2006–present
Founded by Ben Bardaud and Yoann Le Nevé
Attendance 180000

Hellfest, also called Hellfest Summer Open Air, is a French rock festival focusing on heavy metal music, held annually in June in Clisson in Loire-Atlantique. Its high attendance makes it one of the biggest French music festivals. It is also one of the biggest metal festivals in Europe and the first to exist in France.

It originated in another music festival, the Fury Fest, held from 2002 to 2005 in different places of the Loire; the Hellfest takes over in 2006 and knows, in a few years, a continuous rise in visits from 22 000 in the first edition to 152,000 paying visitors in 2015.

Its programming is primarily focused on hard rock and metal on the two main stages, while each of the four other festival's stages are dedicated to a particular style like black metal, death metal, hardcore punk, doom metal or stoner rock, making possible the presence of groups such as Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, ZZ Top, Motörhead and KISS, as well as that of Slayer, Megadeth, Sepultura, Cannibal Corpse or Anthrax.


The festival was the successor of Fury Fest, which was held in 2002 and 2003 in Clisson and Nantes respectively, and 2004 and 2005 in Le Mans.

In June 2009, numerous groups concerned about the concert name asked the festival sponsors to disengage from Hellfest. Coca-Cola announced a few days later that they will no longer support the festival.

In March 2010, two days before local elections, Prime Minister François Fillon and the leader of the MPF Philippe de Villiers came to support Christophe Béchu, candidate of the UMP for the regional elections of the Pays de la Loire. In front of 1,500 people Mr De Villiers reiterated his support for the candidate and attacked the metal music festival Hellfest: "Our values are not like those of the Regional Council (PS); to be funding a satanic festival!".[1] The same month, former minister and leader of the Parti chrétien-démocrate Christine Boutin wrote to Kronenbourg asking them to stop supporting the festival.[2] The 30 March, questioned by deputy Patrick Roy, the minister Frédéric Mitterrand declared to the Assemblée Nationale that the detractors of the festival should calm down. During the 2011 edition an homage was paid to Patrick Roy who died two months before.

On June 9, 2010, the AFC (Associations Familiales Catholiques) sued the Hellfest, asking them not to allow people under 18 years old to attend the festival and to give them the titles of the songs to be played during the 2010 edition. On June 14, the judge refused their demand.


Early Years[edit]

The first association was created in 2000 in Clisson as "CLS CREW", in order to organize concerts of hardcore and punk in the region of Nantes. It allows to program groups like Arkangel or Poison the Well. The success of these concerts makes possible the launch the first festival in June 2002, named Fury Fest. It gathers 400 people to attend Agnostic Front, in Clisson, in the sports complex of Val-de-Moine.

The festival continued the following years. It attracts 7,000 people to attend concerts of Sick of It All and Youth of Today (in) in 2003. The format changes to two days. Because no room was available in Clisson, Hall of Trocardière (Rezé) hosts this second edition. The organization of the festival also changes: the "MAN.IN.FEST" association was created to take charge of the organization. The 2003 has reached € 30,000 profit, allowing Benjamin Barbaud, one of the founders, to become an employee of the structure. In 2004, the festival moved to Le Mans and stands in the halls of the 24 Hours circuit where it attracts 21,000 spectators to Slipknot and Soulfly.

After a deficit in 2004, the 2005 festival inherited liabilities so the organizing team decided to give the rights of the festival to other promoters and focus on the organization. This time 30,000 admissions were recorded at Le Mans over three days, as fans came to see acts such as Slayer, Motörhead and Anthrax, across three stages. But financial problems worsened, particularly with the disappearance of the promoters with €600 000 in receipts. These losses marked the end of the festival, at least temporarily.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°05′16″N 1°16′57″E / 47.08778°N 1.28250°E / 47.08778; 1.28250