TINALS, or ‘This Is Not A Love Song’, is a three-day event outside the town of Nîmes in southern France. The music emphasis might not be on love songs, but there are some truly lovely moments to be had at this festival, which encourage difference and diversity. Here’s our guide on what to do, what to see and how to make the most of this wonderful experience in the French summer sun.
Over the past six years of its existence, the festival has played host to a range of acts like The Divine Comedy and Dinosaur Jr. There is an indoor area with different rooms for different bands and three outdoor sound stages. TINALS tends to place an emphasis on rock but not just. In 2018, the headline acts were Beck, Phoenix and The Jesus and Mary Chain, but there were also a lot of opportunities to see more alternative acts, like Father John Misty and Superorganism. You also might find a little rhythm and blues and in the Love Room, there’ll be DJs spinning some house or electro music with a much lighter, dancier beat.
The ethos for TINALS is simple and threefold. Firstly, the music must be independent and niche in some way. Secondly, the ethos is about participation, which means bringing people together either through music (the Love Room has a very inclusive and happy vibe) or through creative workshops. And thirdly, the aim is to bring more people in through free afternoons (tickets are necessary for the evening but afternoons are open to the general public) and there is a real emphasis on family (under tens can come in for free and headphones are available for kids, to protect their little ears).
Speaking of kids, there are tons of activities for them. There are some great artsy workshops until 8 pm every evening, where kids (and adults) can get their hair braided, make silk flowers (for broaches or belts) and weave stunning crowns from real flowers. There are small tables for little kids to sit, play and draw as well as games for all the family. More than that, it’s a really safe space for kids to explore an environment that they might not usually see. They can discover music for the first time (noise-reducing headphones are free if you leave a driver’s license or a similar piece of ID), there is a walking pastor who will ‘marry’ friends or lovers, a colour board where they can draw on the wall and a chill out area full of multi-coloured cushions (where you can have some downtime to eat and take it all in). The space is big but not so huge (though, it’s a good idea to choose meeting points in case you get separated). Lastly, be sure to enjoy the hula hoop competitions, the conga lines that magically appear and the long-awaited sunset when the cool breeze at last rolls in.
There’s a wide range of food trucks and the bars are well distributed across the site so that queuing doesn’t become a problem. Money doesn’t change hands onsite; rather, once you have your ticket, you can register for a payment card and load it with money to swipe. It’s effective because it also means you can send your little ones off quite happily to enjoy their activities without them being responsible for lots of notes and coins. You can keep topping up your card and the reimbursement of any leftover cash is quick and painless on the following Monday. Food trucks span the usual burgers and fries, but also interesting tacos and veggie options. The bars have a good range of beers and there is a wine truck for refined palates.
There are shaded areas but the site is pretty open to the sunshine – and the weather in Nîmes can get hot. Hats are cheaply available to protect against the harsh daytime sun but make sure to pack lots of sunscreen. Wear flat shoes (girls mostly wear trainers or flat sandals) because the ground is mostly woodchip or grass and as you’d expect of an indie festival where difference is valued, people dress low key and comfortably. Download the TINALS app before you go as it will remind you where to find everything, what’s on and even send you reminders so you won’t miss your favourite acts.
The festival is held in the Nîmes Aerodrome so it’s a good idea to stay in Nîmes itself if you want to see its historic town – Nîmes has a Roman amphitheatre and still holds bullfights if that’s your bag. The festival is very easy to get to from the station, so it’s a great idea to stay in a hotel by the station and get the cheap bus there and back. There is also a campsite nearby (with an accompanying shuttlebus) and you can obviously park onsite if you want to drive.