Posted: 11.06.2024 12:46:00

Holiday in a new format

The sports and cultural festival is back! For three years in a row, Vytoki has travelled all over Belarus and taken place in each of the country’s regions, gathering tens of thousands of people. The festival, which combines sports, culture, history, education, fashion and more, has become one of the most anticipated events of the summer. Last week, all roads led to Pruzhany — it is this place in Brest Region that was chosen by Belarus’ National Olympic Committee as the next centre of cultural and sports attraction. The unique festival Vytoki was in full swing and gave joy to all participants for three days.

Festival with flair

The Vytoki Festival — a sports and historical quest, Pruzhany, Brest Region.      ALEKSANDR KUSHNER

The history of the Vytoki festival began in 2021 — the Year of People’s Unity and the 30th anniversary of Belarus’ National Olympic Committee. The first place to host the festive event was Lida, Grodno Region. The idea was to hold the holiday in small towns in order to unite people, while showcasing not only sports but also a cultural component. 
The event proved to be unique. Already in the first season, residents and guests of the festival were offered a very rich and eventful programme, which included excursions,
The Vytoki Festival — an Olympic quest, Pruzhany, Brest Region.    ALEKSANDR KUSHNER
seminars, round tables, exhibitions of local manufacturers and modern Belarusian artists, concerts of famous performers, Olympic quests and much more. The ‘filling’ of Vytoki changed with each new season, and subsequent festivals gathered more and more guests. Thus, 152,000 people visited Vytoki in 2023, and over 359,000 in three years in total! 
Vytoki has become a nationwide festival and is loved by the participants. After all, its diverse programme offers a range of captivating activities to everyone’s liking. The organisers — the National Olympic Committee, the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus, ArtHaos LLC and BelBrandAudit LLC — have tried to make sure that the events unfolding at the festival venues will be remembered even years later. 

Pruzhany surprised

President of Belarus’ National Olympic
Committee Viktor Lukashenko
In previous years, Vytoki travelled around the country, making a stop in each region. This season, the format has changed — the only festival of this summer has taken place in Pruzhany. This year, the organisers have also prepared lots of fascinating things. All attention of participants on the first day of the festival was drawn to the tourist potential and history of the region — the nationwide campaign Travel! Experience! Get Inspired! and the presentation of the Pearl of Pruzhany District route were held there. An art interactive activity arranged by the ArtHaos gallery gathered more than 200 people, who took part in the design of the roller skate park, which had been opened before. It was a great show with the participation of leading Russian skateboarders, Belarusian representatives of roller sports and breakdancing!     
The programme of the second day began with an introduction to the sports infrastructure available in Pruzhany. President of Belarus’ National Olympic Committee Viktor Lukashenko, Minister of Sports and Tourism Sergei Kovalchuk, Chairman of the Brest Regional Executive Committee Yuri Shuleiko visited Youth Sports School No. 1, Specialised Youth Sports School of the Olympic Reserve No. 2 and the Ice Palace, and assessed the conditions created for training young athletes, volleyball players, footballers, hockey players and figure skaters, swimmers and representatives of other sports developing in the region. The facilities enjoy popularity — the occupancy rate of the Water Palace, which provides not only a swimming pool, but also a water park, is about 98 percent. The Ice Palace boasts a very busy schedule, too. By the way, the delegation came to the schools with gifts — the heads of the facilities were presented with cash certificates from the Ministry of Sports and Tourism.
President of Belarus’ National Olympic Committee Viktor Lukashenko explained why this particular district centre was chosen to host the large-scale event, “Pruzhany is a town with a rich culture, history and great sporting achievements. It is no coincidence that the festival is being held for the 20th anniversary time and for the first time in a new format in Brest Region, which is the first region of the country.”




It was possible to learn more about Pruzhany during the sports and historical quest. In addition, the second day of the festival featured an interactive theatrical production You Can Tell a Gentleman by His Shoes, and other interesting events took place. The culmination of the holiday came on Saturday, on June 8th. The Mukhavets Stadium hosted the Olympic quest, which had 26 venues for various sports. 
Rowing, boxing, wrestling, hockey, tennis, rhythmic gymnastics — one did not know where to look first due to the abundance of the presented disciplines. Visitors of the festival enjoyed strolling through the rows of the exhibition showcased by artisans and enterprises, looking for souvenirs to keep the memory of the event.
A lot of prominent athletes came to Pruzhany to attend the festival. It was possible to meet Iryna Kurachkina, Aliaksei Alfiorau, Hanna Huskova, Maria Shkanova, and more than a dozen top athletes of the country. They actively helped the guys to cope with the tasks of the Olympic quest. Among them was the most titled judo athlete of Belarus, Maryna Slutskaya, who came to Vytoki for the first time. “I think that this is a mega-cool event for small towns,” Maryna shared her impressions. “It gathers a large number of children and parents, which, first of all, promotes communication. In addition, guys try different sports and can choose the one that is interesting for them.” 
The programme of the anniversary holiday featured a lot of novelties, such as a football match with the participation of sports stars. Football veterans Roman Vasilyuk, Dzmitry Mazalewski, Radzislau Arlouski and others took the field in one team, while the Olympic team was represented by Aliaksandr and Andrei Bahdanovich, Kiryl Maskevich, Maksim Nedasekau. “It wasn’t easy on the field, but I hope everyone enjoyed it!” noted Aleksandr Hleb, who also played in the match. He shared his opinion about the festival as a whole. “Grandiose, beautiful and spectacular! There are a lot of people, the atmosphere is amazing — I really liked it.” 
Several other special events took place at Vytoki. Thus, the first Belarus’ Olympic champion, Sergey Makarenko, presented his book From the Brest Fortress to the Olympic Peak. Amid the festive atmosphere of the festival, two-time Olympic champion Ekaterina Karsten handed her first Olympic medal — a bronze, won in 1992 in Barcelona — to Viktor Lukashenko. The outstanding athlete admitted that she wanted to take it to the National Olympic Committee’s museum, but the fact that the medal transfer took place in such a vibrant environment made it even more joyful.
A gala concert with the participation of famous performers, a spectacular colourful light and pyrotechnic show and a disco party — the participants will undoubtedly remember the end of the holiday for a long time. We say goodbye to Vytoki until next summer!

By Tatiana Pastushenko