Cannes Prays for Sun, Preps for Rain

9:00 PM PST 05/13/2014 by Rhonda Richford

After two consecutive years of downpours, organizers, party planners and attendees are preparing for the worst.

The weather forecast for Cannes calls for sunny skies for the next week, even though foreboding clouds and a brief drizzle slightly dampened festgoers' high hopes May 13.

After drenched fests in 2012 and 2013, event organizers and local business people have increased preparations for rain — just in case.

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“The last couple of years have been a drag, definitely, but sometimes it works in our favor. People can come in to get dry and get out of the rain,” Julie Sisk, director of the American Pavilion, tells THR. “I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be nice and sunny this year, because I invested in 150 ponchos to give out to people.”

Last year, her team gave away garbage bags as makeshift rain shields. “I have a lovely picture of several people wearing garbage bags walking home from the pavilion,” Sisk recalls.

She notes that the pavilion changed its interior layout after “dark and gloomy” weather cast a pall over meetings there during the 2012 festival, but safety regulations still prevent additions to the exterior structures, even after part of the terrace washed out to sea last year during a particularly violent storm.

Leeza McGuire, managing director for World Wide Event Management, who handled the setup for the Brazilian Pavilion and the blowout bash with Kanye West for production and financing company Red Granite at past festivals, says: “Obviously, in Cannes there’s a lot of events that happen outside on the beaches, and I find the rain is easier to provision for rather than the wind.”

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Last year, when her team was setting up a Brazilian beach club, “the wind was so high we just simply couldn’t put some things up for safety reasons,” she recalls. “With high wind like that you just have to batten down the hatches and hope that nobody gets hurt.”

As part of a €3.7 million renovation, the Majestic Hotel reinforced its beach with two tons of imported sand. “This is natural sand from south of France’s sand quarries,” says Diane Pagnard, director of public relations at the Majestic. “In case of a storm, there’s a wall which can be dismantled surrounding the restaurant and the bar. This wall is built of wooden planks that we can install in 30 minutes.”

Xavier Jacquet of Plein Sud Events, which works with luxury hospitality brand Nikki Beach in front of the Carlton, says regulations also play into local preparations.

Says Jacquet: “Under French law, if the wind exceeds 100 kilometers an hour, we have to move everyone out. The tents can stay, but everybody has to exit.”

Evacuations, torrential rains, and gale-force winds, nothing dampens the festival's spirit. Adds McGuire: "It's Cannes — people always manage to party."

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