NEWS 14 Jun 16

Festival Trio Set to Draw Crowds in Bulgaria

June is one of the richest months for lovers of alternative arts, ethno culture and good food in Bulgaria. 

Mariya Cheresheva
Kapana Creative District in Plovdiv. Photo: Kristina Krusteva/Flickr

Dotted at locations all around the country, a mix of concerts, theatre shows, conferences, arts, crafts and food workshops as well as creative programs for children aim to draw a large number of visitors to Bulgaria in June.

Of the three most promising international festivals that June has to offer, two are well-recognized while the third is a completely new experimence for Bulgaria’s arts scene.

One Design Week

The eighth festival for design and visual culture, One Design Week, taking place between June 10 and 19, is in Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s third biggest city, famous for its creative arts scene.

In 2014, after a tough competition with the country’s capital, Sofia, it was selected as a European Capital of Culture for 2019 and since then has been preparing for the big day.

Over the past few years Kapana, Plovdiv’s creative district, located in a bohemian area of the city’s picturesque centre, has turned into a hub for Bulgaria’s hipster culture.

Naturally, many of the activities in One Design Week are concentrated in Kapana. This year, the festival’s main topic is “Can I Help”, focusing on functional design that works in favour of society generally.

“Design is not something elite – it is rather an instrument which gives a shape to every aspect of our lives,” the organizers from One Foundation for Culture and Arts say.

Over the ten days of the festival they are bringing together 195 foreign and 132 Bulgarian artists, whose work can be seen in various exhibitions, open installations, workshops and a professional forum with world famous designers.

Water Tower Art Fest

Water Tower Art Fest in 2015. Photo: Facebook

After starting ten years ago as a grassroots artistic initiative for transforming the space around one of Sofia’s landmark buildings – the once-abandoned water tower in the Lozenets district, this festival has established itself as an important international arts forum.

Three years ago, controversially, the Sofia municipality banned access to the water tower for the festival's activities, but then decided to make it a culture centre – something that the activists view as a victory.

Nowadays the festival is held in different locations around Sofia – in cultural institutes, arts hubs such as the Red House for Culture and Debate, as well is in abandoned industrial buildings and railway depots.  

This year, it is held in the state-run mental clinic in Kurilo, Sofia, a choice designed to counter the stigma against people with mental illnesses and offer them access to arts and cultural experiences.

The Water Tower Art Festival will be held between June 16 and June 25 with the participation of over 80 artists from all around the world.

Zenith Fusion Festival

Dolen Village. Photo: James Roffey/FlickrVisitor

Visitors seeking a taste of Balkan village life and cultural traditions will most probably head for the Zenith Fusion Festival.

Pictured by its organizers as a “boutique festival that showcases an anthology of Bulgaria’s beauty”, it will be held from June 24 to 26 in the Dolen village in the natural reserve of the Rhodopi mountain.

Only 300 tickets will be sold for the fest, which supports initiatives that enable traditions to survive, regenerate and remain relevant.

Apart from partying to the sound of local and international DGs, the visitors will have the chance to explore the history and nature of the Rhodopi and to try its traditional herbs and food specialties.

Local “babi” - grandmothers - who are famous for their hospitality are waiting to share their amazing food, songs and stories with their local and international guests.

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