Near Toulon. The Lantern Festival in Blagnac is over: is it the fault of… the war in Ukraine?

The Lantern Festival leaves Blagnac for good. (©Thibaut Calatayud / News Toulouse)

One year and then it goes. On Tuesday, March 8, 2022, the mayor of Blagnac finally sealed the fate of the lantern festivaljoseph carles announced that the event will not be repeated in its borough for the second consecutive year.

A deficit of 600,000 euros

The event took place from December 1, 2021 to February 1, 2022 324,000 paying visitors and 85,000 children under 11 years for whom the place was offered. That is a total of almost 410,000 people in Ritouret Park, mainly from Occitanie (360,000).

This income did not cover the costs of organizing such a festival. However, a year ago, at the time of the official presentation of this great event, Joseph Carles was convinced by the idea of ​​​​generating a surplus:

“The day after the Lantern Festival, our concern is probably how we manage the surplus! †

joseph carlesMonday 15 March 2021, at the time of the presentation of the Lantern Festival

A year later, the accounts show turnover of 5.3 million euros and a deficit of 600,000 euros† As a reminder, the city of Blagnac has invested 2.5 million to organize this event.

But the alderman does not flinch. The festival was a “total success” in terms of safety, traffic, presence in times of health crisis and economic benefits for restaurateurs and hoteliers.

Covid, vaccination pass and bad weather

To explain the remaining costs of 600,000 euros, Joseph Carles and his teams have listed a number of factors.

According to the municipality, this cost is explained by the desire to “promote the safety and high quality level of the reception of festival goers (shuttles, PMR shuttles, bicycle shed, two civil protection posts, three entrances to the park, communication aids for applications, etc.). ).

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This shortage can also be explained by factors outside the festival: “The drop in visitor numbers linked to the resumption of the Covid with two variants, the obligation of the health and then vaccination pass” or even “10 days of very bad weather”, are arguments of the municipality.

“It is not a failure. A year ago, the Covid was behind us. The dynamism in the agglomeration of Toulouse would have made it possible to reach 600,000 visitors”.

joseph carles

The war in Ukraine has shuffled the cards again

Despite this shortfall, the elected official assures us that the initial desire was to renew the experience. But the geopolitical context with the Russian invasion of Ukraine shook the cards again at the last minute. Even with the financial participation of local authorities (Metropolis, Department and Region), financial equilibrium was no longer guaranteed given the situation in Eastern Europe.

“It creates an extremely high level of uncertainty. We don’t know how things will evolve. When we did the festival, there was also a high level of uncertainty with the Covid. […] We have agreed to cooperate. But today is different. It’s a geopolitical uncertainty.”

joseph carles

The mayor regrets having to make this decision because he is convinced that the second edition would have made it possible to reach 550,000 visitors. “Without a pandemic, without a war in Ukraine, I think the question of renewal would not have arisen. […] There is also uncertainty about the fact that we have to sign a contract with China…”, Joseph Carles explained, suggesting the strong relationship that exists between this country and Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

The festival will take place elsewhere

Patrice Gausserand, president of Mag Conseil and founder of the festival, lamented a “political decision”. This is entirely presumed by Joseph Carles.

The former mayor of Gaillac (Tarn), where the first editions of the Lantern Festival were organized, nevertheless assured that this magical event would take place.

“There are requests,” he said, adding that towns in Occitania had lined up to welcome him. But it is not easy for him to leave Blagnac.

What about the rugby pitch at Ritouret Park?

During the Lantern Festival there were marquees on the rugby field of Ritouret Park. Inevitably, the lawn suffered a lot. Asked by Actu Toulouse, Joseph Carles indicated that the municipality is thinking about the future of sports infrastructure.

“We are close to Odyssud. The hall will be closed for two years and a huge construction site (the total operation is estimated at 12 million euros, note from the editors). There is no question of stopping the programming of Odyssud. We are so on a program outside the walls Maybe we have the possibility to use this space (the rugby field, editor’s note) Maybe we make it a space for mixed use: sports and for demonstrations But there is no decision yet taken,” said the official elected.

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