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European Peoples' Festival
by Asa Butcher
2007-07-23 09:17:49
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From July 23rd-28th, the European Peoples’ Festival will take place in Ekenäs (Tammisaari), Finland, for the very first time. The festival is a celebration of European friendship where 800 guests from 17 EU countries participate in sports competitions and display their culture. The event is opened to the general public, especially in the evening when the Eurovillage begins and a variety of cultural events are presented. This full week of sport, leisure and culture offers something for every age and taste.

eurofestbanner_400A traditional church service in the old church of Ekenäs signals the start of the festival, which is then followed by the afternoon's EuroParade that will lead the participants through the city to the Northern Harbour. The Northern Harbour hosts music and dance, information desks, ethnic food stores, local exhibitors, a bar area and the Eurovillage every day, while the night owls can enjoy the Eurovillage club after midnight and its selection of top DJs.

Alongside the sporting events and other additional events taking place on the beaches and streets of Ekenäs, there is a selection of acts performing at the European Peoples’ Festival. Tsuumi Sound System, a highly dynamic modern folk music group from Finland, Markscheider Kunst, a Russian band with a German name that plays music with a hot tropical mood, Ndioba & Topoto Band play Afro-pop of the new millennium, and Mir-0, a one-man orchestra, are all scheduled to perform over the five-day event.

On Saturday evening in front of the main stage, Tulikansa, an artist community which shares the interest of making live art with fire, will be demonstrating why they are the biggest and most famous fire art group in Finland. Some call it fire art, others say fire theatre, but either way it must be seen to be believed with its live mixture of fire, dance, music, and pyrotechnics.

This is the first time Ekenäs has hosted the event, since they joined in 2000, and are set to prove that they are able to host an impressive European Peoples’ Festival despite the town's population being just 15,000, of which 82% are Swedish-speakers. The town is located on the southern archipelago that stretches as far as 20km and is about 80km from Finland's capital Helsinki.

In his welcoming words in the festival programme, Mårten Johansson, Mayor of Ekenäs, says, "Some people claim that the beauty of this south-west corner of Finland is one of the best kept secrets in the world. I believe this holds true, and it will be our great pleasure to share it with you. Ekenäs will host visiting vessels from the “Tall Ships Race”. They are expected to arrive late Sunday (July 22) in the afternoon - depending on wind and weather, and to leave on Tuesday towards Stockholm."

The first European Peoples’ Festival was held in Libramont, Belgium, in 1992, although the event was originally planned as a one-off event. Over the past 15 years, the festival has grown in size and stature, bringing together even more ordinary people to share in the common bond of European identity. The primary objective of this annual festival is the promotion of knowledge through culture, leisure, tourism, sport and friendship.

In addition to knowledge, the European Peoples’ Festival hopes to improve communication between the different peoples of the European Union, promote a better understanding of towns, national cultures and countries within the EU, to further promote the ideals of European unity and to develop links between the partner towns and other international projects. The 16 other EU countries are Spain, Ireland, Germany, Portugal, UK (Scotland), Denmark, Lithuania, Holland, Belgium, Greece, Latvia, Italy, Luxembourg, Hungary, Poland, France and Sweden.

Click here to listen to an interview with James O'Sullivan, a member of KVT (International Voluntary Service), who is involved in the logistics of organising the European Peoples’ Festival.

Click here to download the Festival's PDF Programme


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Paparella2007-07-22 11:20:16
Great programme! Great photos. The welcoming message of the Minister of Culture Stefan Wallin is right on target. This kind of festival where the diversity and creativity of the traditional cultures of the people of Europe is celebrated and emphasized, and their nationalistic ammbitions de-emphasized, is indeed the effective kind of glue needed for a viable future EU.

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