CBA Global Connections

Bluegrass in La Roche

 

Europe’s Biggest bluegrass festival in the French Alps

In January 2022, La Roche Bluegrass Festival changed its name to Bluegrass In La Roche to reflect its new direction following the two-year break for Coronavirus. Bluegrass in La Roche is the biggest festival dedicated exclusively to Bluegrass music in Europe. It runs during the first week and weekend in August, and has been going since 2006. Entrance to all concerts is free. Thirty-five bands from 15 different countries come to the small medieval town of La Roche-sur-Foron, drawing large crowds to see the official shows, the fringe concerts, and open jams that take place on every street corner and on every café terrace.

The people of La Roche-sur-Foron had never heard of Bluegrass before 2006, but the partnership between Bluegrass lover Christopher Howard-Williams, a resident since 2000, and Tourist Office chief Didier Philippe, Rochois-born and bred, found the right chemistry to build an event with the necessary magic to bring together Bluegrass lovers from across Europe with the townsfolk in mutual appreciation. Bluegrass In La Roche already has a long association with the CBA. The Kathy Kallick Band performed in 2011, featuring our first alum from the CBA Youth Program, Annie Staninec. Frank Solivan played in 2013, 2015, and again in 2018. In 2018, Molly Tuttle headlined, and in 2019, we welcomed AJ Lee & Blue Summit. In 2022, we are looking forward to hosting Crying Uncle Bluegrass Band. Also, in 2019, Christopher Howard-Williams had the pleasure to be a guest at the wonderful Fathers Day Festival in Grass Valley.

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Location La Roche-sur-Foron is in the French Alps across the border from Geneva (our nearest international airport). It is 45 minutes from Chamonix, Europe’s highest peak and birthplace of mountaineering. It is also 30 minutes from Annecy, Europe’s purest freshwater lake, and 90 minutes from Lyon, the capital of ancient Gaul. Access to Paris, Italy (through Mont Blanc Tunnel), and the Mediterranean Sea is easy by road or by high speed train.

Entrance to Bluegrass In La Roche is Free We can do this because the festival is 100% volunteer-operated, including all food and beverage operations, which we manage on site ourselves using local suppliers, contributing 60% of our income — the rest coming from private and public partners, and other festival-related activities.

Festival Program The festival starts with a 3-day camp with American and French instructors. Lab Bands formed during the camp open the festival on the main stage on Thursday. The Street Festival runs Wednesday evening and Friday lunchtime, when bands play on the restaurant and bar terraces around town. The Main Stage runs from Thursday to Sunday from 5pm to midnight. Town Hall Stage, featuring duets and trios, runs Friday to Sunday from 3pm to 6pm. The Lunchtime Stage (in front of the festival F&B bars) showcases a young band talent contest and two headline acts on Saturday and Sunday from midday to 3pm.

For more information on the festival, the town of La Roche and what to do and see in this beautiful region of the French Alps, visit www.larochebluegrass.org

The CBA Global Connections program seeks to unite the community of bluegrass and old time musicians, fans, and promoters by exchanging stories, music, and information about events and activities worldwide.