As the name of this website makes clear, one of the focus areas of Balkan Hotspot is the Balkan countries and their culture and societies. Next week, an interesting festival called Balkan Square festival (Valkaniki Plateia) is taking place in Thessaloniki. To find out more about it, our volunteers asked one of the organizers, Charis Imvridis, some questions about the festival and its philosophy. In this article, we share what we learned from this short interview!
The first idea and philosophy behind the Balkan Square festival
The main philosophy behind the Balkan Square festival is to support peace, stability and cooperation in the Balkans. It also intends to strengthen the connections between the Balkan countries in the context of the European Union. Charis Imvridis highlights the importance of the European context, saying that “In the perspective of a polycentric Europe, our common Balkan future can only be European.” The festival aims to encourage people to overcome ideas of national differences in thought and language. Instead, the organizers hope to contribute to a global feeling of community and a common future. The festival wants to be a place where people from different backgrounds can meet and come into contact with a wide variety of images, words, people and traditions.
Start of the festival
Because Thessaloniki has a history of being very multicultural, it is the perfect location for this festival. That is why the Balkan Square festival took place here for the first time in 1997. Thessaloniki was the Cultural Capital of Europe in that year. The festival first took place at the Port of Thessaloniki. Three years later, during the summer of 2000, the Municipality of Neapoli was allowed to start organizing it. The festival still takes place in Neapoli nowadays.
As mentioned, the Balkan Square festival takes place in Neapoli. In 2005, the opening of the Balkan Square Festival took place at the site of Allied Cemeteries of the First World War on Langada Street, in collaboration with the Holy Metropolis of Neapoli-Stavropoli. For the occasion, religious and political leaders from all across the Balkans were invited. Since that year, it was decided that the first day of the festival takes place in this area. The other events, that take place from Tuesday to Sunday, are in the area of Stremenioti in Neapolis where there are sports facilities, an open theatre, a refreshment room, a nice showroom and green areas.
The 2018 edition
The festival becomes bigger every year. This year’s festival has a program with many different acts, from photo exhibitions, music, dance, visual arts and food. During five days, artists from the Balkan countries present their culture and their everyday life through various acts. Through different kinds of cultural expression, they show that it is possible to coexist despite cultural difference and political and social barriers.