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News 15 Apr 16

Days of Belgrade Celebrates City’s Rich History

One of the oldest local festivals, the Days of Belgrade, will shine brighter than ever this year, with more than 40 events planned over the course of four days – April 16-19.

David Galic
BIRN
Belgrade
Belgrade Mayor Sinisa Mali at the press conference. Photo: Beta

The festival’s dates are symbolic, commemorating not one, but two very important events in the history of Belgrade. On April 16 Belgrade will mark 1,138 years since the first written record of the city came to be, put to paper by the quill of Pope John VIII.

April 19, the end date, coincides with the 150th anniversary of Prince Mihailo Obrenovic’s receipt of the key to the city from the Turks, finally and officially restoring Belgrade’s status as a Serbian city.

Belgrade Mayor Sinisa Mali has announced that most of the events are going to be held in the busiest parts of the city – such as the always bustling Knez Mihailova pedestrian zone and the Kalemegdan fortress – so that as many locals and visitors get to be a part of the celebration as possible.

“It’s has become a true Belgrade holiday, a perfect way to promote the city and develop its tourism offerings,“ he said.

City manager Goran Vesic, who serves as president of the festival’s organizational council, notes that the Children’s Belgrade Spring Music Festival is going to be part of the festival once again this year after a 20-year hiatus.

Organisers say 18 concerts will be played in the Knez Mihailova street pedestrian zone on the first day of the festival alone.

The festival also includes a matinee programme during which some of Belgrade’s most well-known actors will come together to read some of their favourite passages written about their home town.

The city will open the doors of its main institutions on April 18, allowing the public a rare glimpse into many government buildings. Later that night, the Yugoslav Film Archive will present a series of movies about Belgrade.

Mali says the festival is meant to celebrate Belgrade and share the city’s beauty with as many people as possible. Opening up the city’s cultural institutions and allowing the public to explore them is one of the festival’s central themes.

In support of that goal, organisers are distributing cultural artefacts and resources around festival locations. For example, if you visit the parliament building, you will encounter an exhibit called “Our Treasures,” open from April 16-20,comprising some of the most valuable works of art from Belgrade’s museums – some of which are not put on display often. One of the pieces to be displayed is the first ever book to ever be printed in Belgrade. It dates back to 1522.

A “History of Seafaring” exhibition organized by the Museum of Science and Technology will be held outdoors on the Sava River quay.

Concerts will be held by the river every night as well – all featuring Belgrade natives singing traditional songs that have captured the spirit of the people and their city over the years.

While the Days of Belgrade festival is technically only four days long, related events will take place all month, leading up to International Jazz Day on April 30, which many view as the true closing of the festival. On that night, there will be a special concert of the RTS Big Band at Sava Centre.

This article was published in BIRN's bi-weekly newspaper Belgrade Insight. Here is where to find a copy.

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