A decade after launching in Australia, Francophile music festival and culinary love-in So Frenchy So Chic (SFSC) will make its European debut in London next year. The self-described garden party – a perennial kid-friendly favourite on the festival calendar in Melbourne and Sydney alike – will descend on Greenwich’s World Heritage-listed Old Royal Naval College in September 2020.
The impeccably curated festival pairs French music and food and has thrived on Australian shores. News of SFSC’s London expansion comes in the lead-up to its January events at Werribee Park Mansion in Melbourne and Bicentennial Park in Sydney, where it will be headlined by singer, songwriter, actress and model Lou Doillon, whose 2019 album Soliloquy includes a duet with Cat Power.
While the London line-up won’t be announced until April 2020 (when the first tickets go on sale), other highlights of the upcoming Australian edition include returning bossa-nova outfit Nouvelle Vague (now making their third appearance at SFSC), along with throwback disco diva Corine, Senegal-born busker-turned-troubadour Tété, and Gotan Project’s Philippe Cohen Solal in genre-juggling, festival-capping DJ mode.
The brainchild of Melbourne transplant Jean-François Ponthieux, SFSC is the only festival dedicated to French music in a non-francophone country. It’s hosted more than 40 acts over the past decade, including French superstar Camille. Australian audiences have come to understand SFSC isn’t just about the music: food and wine enjoy equal billing, with culinary talent regularly tapped to liven up the festivities. Now, Ponthieux is teaming up with Australian-born producer Nick Zuppar, who produces big-tier music events in London, to take it to the UK market using the festival’s established success in Australia as a blueprint.
A decade ago Ponthieux had no such blueprint. Instead he looked to the village parties that brightened his childhood in the north of France. “Everything was superb: the food, the wine, the music, the ambiance,” he said in a press release. “And everyone was there: kids, teenagers, parents … There was sense of community and conviviality and celebration that seemed a model for now.”
That model is well-paired with the Thames-adjacent Old Royal Naval College, designed in the early-18th century by iconic English architect Sir Christopher Wren. “There could not be a more perfect place for So Frenchy’s first London outing,” said Zuppar in the press release. “It’s an astonishingly beautiful place that’s about to get an astonishingly beautiful contemporary soundtrack.”
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