Since 2012, Family Piknik has been reimagining the concept of electronic festivals in the south of France. Based out of Montpellier, organizers focus on the best of the underground scene while making music accessible to all ages in a boutique-style atmosphere.
I’ve traveled from the MFW world headquarters in Montpelier, Vermont, to see how they festival in our sister city of Montpellier, France. I’ve only been to France to cover indie rock fests in the past so this is my first time sampling a French electronic festival. Family Piknik is also my 120th fest that I’ve covered for Music Festival Wizard, so I’m enjoying that small milestone over the weekend. Let’s get into the rundown!
Table Of Contents
1. Running the Numbers
Dates: August 4-6, 2023
Attendance: 6000 est. per day
MFW Beer Index: €7.50/500ml
MFW French Fry Index: €4.00
Highest/Lowest Temperature: 29C/19C (84F/64F)
Reusable Cups? Yes
Free Water Stations? Yes
2. The Scene
The festivities of Family Piknik takes place just outside the city in the seaside haven of Frontigan. Family Piknik has a very simple setup with one main stage and a smaller, chilled out spot called the Nomad Stage. Both are covered and provide some protection from the sun and wind coming in from the beach. There are some food stalls on site, but you are more than welcome to bring your own picnic as the name would suggest. I didn’t have the gear to camp this year, but the tent area featured shady trees and easy access to the festival. There are even glamping options available for those of you looking to spend the weekend in style.
My love for smaller festivals this year continues unabated with Family Piknik. With no major lineup clashes, you are able to see every major artist on the schedule and the smaller crowd size meant little difficulty getting close to the music. In line with their mission of bringing the music to the people, Friday night was a free show open to all followed by two packed days of performers.
This is a small, cozy festival with a super-friendly French crowd. This is not a headbanging, pump-your-fist, and scream-on-the-rails type of festival, and the fans reflect it. As a photographer trying to navigate my way through throngs of people, the fans here could not have been more helpful, actively giving me space or indicating that I should take their spot to get better pictures.
3. Music Highlights
Acts I Caught and the Unofficial Order in Which I Enjoyed Them
- Carl Cox
- Hannes Bieger
- Ben Bohmer
- Roman Garcia
- Automatic Writing
- Josh Wink
- Tom Pooks & Sebass
- Patrice Baumel
- Christopher Coe
Festival MVP: Carl Cox
You could palpably feel the excitement when electronic legend, Carl Cox took to the stage for a hybrid-live set. It’s wild watching a 61-year-old DJ fire up a crowd.
Most Intriguing: Hannes Bieger
I can’t even pretend to understand what Hannes Bieger, one of the scene’s best mixing engineers, is up to on stage, but I like it.
Up and Coming: Joplyn
A proudly independent artist out of Berlin, Joplyn brought a burst of fresh energy and positive vibes to Sunday afternoon.
4. Stray Observations
In Dust We Trust
On both days I attended, there were some strong gusts of wind coming in off the sea bringing more sand than I would typically like at a festival. I recommend bringing a scarf.
Costume Of The Week
I will never understand why Europeans are obsessed with a German-based grocery store called LIDL, but I admire their dedication.
Signs You Are In France
They serve wine bottles at the fest!
5. Practical Info
What’s the weather like? The heatwave is over for now in Europe so temps were typical seaside Mediterranean – hot during the day, but bring something warmer for when the sun goes down.
What are the prime hours for music? Music starts early in the day so you really can make a picnic of it. It seemed like the bulk of people filling the place up were from 9:00 pm to 1:00 am.
Where did you sleep? I stayed across the street from the train station at the Best Western Plus Comedie for all three nights. There are a ton of places to eat nearby, a small grocery store at the train station, and just a few blocks away from the city center. I regretted not taking advantage of the onsite camping.
How do you get there? The easiest access to the event is by train from the St. Roch station in Montpellier (€4.70 OW). The only downside is that the last train back is at 10:00 pm so you will miss a few of the headlining DJs or need to book the festival bus. Cabs were prohibitively expensive, so better options are to sign up for the Family Piknik bus that runs after the event is over or just drive down and park.
6. Final Thoughts
In our corporate dominated festival landscape, I’m really encouraged by DIY fests like Family Piknik creating experiences outside the box and reworking the concept of the modern day music fest.