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Amélie-les-Bains folk festival: “A fireworks display from previous editions”

The Amélie-les-Bains folk festival returns this year from August 2 to 7 for its 79th edition, which promises to be a pivotal year with new ambitions for the future of the festival. This year, South America is making a comeback, with three folk groups from Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. A big surprise for this edition, a Ukrainian dance group will also be part of the party.

After a 2021 edition which had put Catalonia in the spotlight, the folk festival of Amélie-les-Bains becomes again, this year, the high mass of music and dances of the world. Six ensembles from Europe and Latin America will set the streets of the spa town ablaze during the six days of the festival.

Argentinian tango dancers, Brazilian sambists, Mexican singers rub shoulders, in the heart of Amélie, with various traditional Catalan groups and Ukrainian dancers from the Podillya ensemble. Supported by the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and with its seniority, the folk festival has made the link between the promotion of Catalan culture and the discovery of foreign civilizations.

What is presented to Amélie is not stylized folklore, but authentic folklore”, says Jean-Louis Legendre, honorary president of the festival for more than 20 years. An attention to detail that has contributed to the success of the festival, since its origins in the 1930s.

Even if this edition takes place in a somewhat particular economic context, which did not escape the mayor of Amélie, Marie Costa: “There are fewer people than usual. We feel a reluctance of people to move.” However, this does not prevent the festival from attracting crowds.

Even if the attendance of the public is difficult to quantify, as the entertainment takes place in the heart of the streets of the city, the two paid shows, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday evening, expect up to 1,000 people.

This mix of genres, which combines local Catalan customs and folklore from around the world, makes the festival so original. “It’s a balancing act”smiles Jean-Louis Legendre. “It’s extremely important”, adds Marie Costa, for whom the promotion of Catalan culture is a major pillar of the festival. To the point of today having slightly different ambitions for the years to come.

“New requirements”

This alliance between local heritage and foreign cultures is today the starting point of a new orientation for the festival, which plans to change dimension little by little. “It’s a pivotal year”says the chosen one. “The previous edition was a great success and today we have new demands for the festival”.

If things are still under study, the main idea seems to have been fixed: to orient the folk festival to make it a unique showcase of Catalan culture, without losing the international side so dear to the city. The popular and local enthusiasm around the 2021 edition, which had put Catalonia and its folklore in the spotlight, was the inspiration for this new vision: “This 79th edition is a bit like a firework of all the previous editions, for the spirit and the tradition. As a tribute to all those who preceded us”explains Marie Costa.

The 80th anniversary of the festival, next year, therefore promises to be the moment of change. “We don’t just want to make people dance, but organize something broader, focused on customs and traditions.” A festival that would honor all aspects of a culture, and not just music and songs.

All this while having the ambition to develop a festival in the colors of blood and gold, unique in its kind, with the final model of the interceltic festival of Lorient, reworked with Catalan sauce.

Tuesday August 2nd, evening devoted to Catalan music from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the streets of Amélie. Musical parade of the Cobla “Tres Quartans” at 6.30 p.m., followed by a show by the folk groups “Juventut” and “Colla Albera Dansa” at 9 p.m.
Wednesday August 3musical entertainment all day in the city.
Thursday Aug 4t, grand presentation of the six bands at 11 a.m. Place de la République. At 4.30 p.m., Grand parade of nations in the presence of all the groups. Starting at 7 p.m., all the ensembles will perform in the streets.
Friday 5 August, day dedicated to Mexico from 11am. At 9 p.m., free show “Discovering Mexico” with the Mexican folk company.
Saturday Aug 6t, many activities in the streets of Amélie. At 9 p.m., “A la Croisée des cultures” evening at the Théâtre de verdure, in the presence of all the groups.
Sunday August 7, closing parade at 11 a.m. At 5 p.m., sardanas and Catalan ball on the Place de la République. At 8:45 p.m., “Night of the Continents” evening and closing gala in the presence of all the folk groups.

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