To a full house, as always

24th Slavianski Bazaar International Festival of Arts ‘sparkles’ in Vitebsk

The opening chords of the concert hadn’t even sounded beneath the walls of the Summer Amphitheatre when one of the planet’s largest cultural forums had already made a new record. It brought together envoys from 42 countries, causing eight new flagpoles to be installed near the major performance venue.


Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin, who were attending BRICS and Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) summits in Ufa, sent their good wishes to the participants of the forum. The festival’s programme started with a preview of sculptures, ceramics and graphics by Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso, as well as traditional Chinese painting — guohua.

The organisers constantly change the format of the event in order to keep it fresh. For example, the Vitebsk-2015 international pop song contest began with a semi-final stage while the similar competition for children ran a TV version this year, with a stage in the Vitebsk concert hall being specially prepared. The Summer Amphitheatre saw artistes perform against a background of LED columns and magnificent 6m tall chandeliers amongst other forms of technological wizardry. The set designer is the winner of the Russian National Television Award — TEFI — Alexander Kholodnov who is known for his Golden Gramophone and Song of the Year projects.


Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk Festival is searching for a new festival concept, with original ideas being offered by the organisers. Various youth projects are scheduled for 2015, which was announced as the Year of Youth in Belarus. These include a Europa Plus TV concert in the Summer Amphitheatre and On Seven Winds street art festival. This offered both residents and guests of the city a unique festive atmosphere with colourful theatrical parades, performances, fire shows, street musicians and poets. Meanwhile, street performers organised the Golden Illusion performance in the Walk of Fame where a cornflower symbol was unveiled during the festival to honour People’s Artiste of Azerbaijan, Polad Bulbuloglu.


The Walk of Fame, near the Summer Amphitheatre, also hosted a draw for the competitors of the international pop song performers contest. They are 21 of them this year, and Valeria Gribusova of Belarus performed her Sleep, Small Falcon song.


On the way to the Summer Amphitheatre, the audience was welcomed by the actors of the Vitebsk’s Koleso (Wheel) Theatre with their Vetreno (Windy) improvised performance. According to the theatre’s head Vladislava Tsvika, who is also an author and co-ordinator of the On Seven Winds projects, the street performance is always improvisation, shock and provocation.

“This is how people often respond to interactive communication with artistes when they begin to speak to them about serious items in the street. It was a great surprise for us when over 300 entrants from Minsk, St. Petersburg, Smolensk and Tiraspol showed their willingness to arrive for the debut fest,” noted Ms. Tsvika.


The city was also preparing to welcome many visitors. The Vetraz hotel complex continued its tradition of opening exclusive rooms in the ‘boutique-hotel’ style specially for the Slavianski Bazaar. This year, they are dedicated to four countries: the Prague Pub, the Indian Bharat, the Venice Fairy Show, and the Russian Souvenir. Vitebsktourist offered a new service: free delivery of its guests to the yoga studio of the Vetraz Hotel, as well as to the helicopter ground for flights or parachute jumping. This is in addition to animation excursions in the company of the founder of Vitebsk, Duchess Olga, and world famous painter Marc Chagall, which are already well established for tourists.

Vitebsk has also hosted a session of the World Festival Association. According to Alexander Sidorenko, Director of the Slavianski Bazaar Festival, it’s important for the development of the forum.


“On the one hand, we try to attract participants from the Slavonic countries firstly whilst ensuring that we conduct dialogue with all countries of the world, following the principle of ‘Through Art to Peace and Mutual Understanding’,” he said.

On those days, Vitebsk was busy late into the night. There were enough events for everyone: popular artistes, fashionable theatrical performances, artistic exhibitions and, of course, the town of masters, along whose streets people can walk endlessly while being surprised at the imaginations of Belarusian craftsmen.

Slavianski Bazaar is probably the best form of marketing for Belarus as a tourist destination, with fans of the country’s largest musical forum annually taking their vacations to spend as much time as possible enjoying this lively and fun filled festival.

By Vladimir Velikhov
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