Kassav performing at the Kreol Festival in 2015
By Stephen Spark
Photographer Stephen Spark
Seychelles | Tuesday 11 October 2016: 5:05 BST
The self-styled capital of the Creole world, Victoria in Seychelles, is putting up the bunting ready for the 31st Festival Kreol. This explosion of culture has plenty to offer the visitor, from serious-minded debates (mostly in Kreol) to lively music shows and dance displays, which need no translation. It begins in elegant style on Saturday 15 October with the Concours de beauté Miss Kreol des Iles, a beauty contest for the region. The following weekend, Victoria comes alive with music shows around the town featuring Seychelles’ séga and moutya artistes. Other attractions include Tifin, a traditional Creole wedding ceremony in the village of Beau Vallon, and an art exhibition at the National Gallery. From Monday 24 October, the festival begins in earnest with more exhibitions, plays and workshops. The unmissable events on Friday 28 October are, at 5pm, La serenade (a parade through the streets of Victoria) followed by Pipili, which sees youngsters showing off their well-rehearsed footwork in traditional dances. This takes place around the Clock Tower a miniature version of London’s Big Ben clock tower – in the centre of Victoria. Then everyone piles into the stadium (Stad Popiler) for Lakadans, an impressive show by the best of the region’s music and dance groups. It’s well organised and runs to time (even in last year’s torrential downpour), yet despite the presence of so many VIPs, the atmosphere is relaxed and informal in typical Seychelles style. Victoria is truly ‘en fete’ on Saturday with more music around town, while in the evening everyone who is anyone will head over the hill to Beau Vallon for a fashion show, Défilé Fon Lanmal. It starts at 7pm, but it’s wise to get there early to catch the sunset and to find a good spot to watch the show. There’s a wind-down feel to Sunday, starting at 9am with a Creole mass at the simple but beautiful Catholic cathedral in Victoria, followed by Un dimanche au bord de la mer (Sunday by the seaside) – a splendid open-air picnic at Anse Royal, on the south-east coast of Mahé. On Monday all is quiet until the evening when the festival officially comes to an end with three events all starting at 8pm. Orchestra Zez plays at the International Conference Centre, while there is an outdoor show, Vibration Créole, in the town-centre park, Freedom Square. And then there is the granddaddy of them all, the Bal Asosye, a traditional Creole ball, at the Creole Institute in Anse aux Pins. If you’re planning on staying to the end, be warned – it doesn’t end until 6 o’clock on Tuesday morning! If the Kreol language appears a bit daunting, don’t worry; almost everyone speaks English in Seychelles and people will happily explain what’s going on. The safe, friendly atmosphere puts you at ease, and the similarities with old-time Caribbean culture soon become obvious. Getting there There are no direct flights, but quick changes can be made by changing at Paris (Air France/Air Seychelles), Dubai (Emirates) or Abu Dhabi (Etihad/Air Seychelles). For more details about Seychelles, see: www.seychelles.travel, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or tel: +44 (0) 207 245 6106.