Since 1962 every year the International Folklore Festival of Lefkada takes place in Lefkada Town. A major international event during which popular and folk dance companies from all over the world gather in the capital of Lefkada island. They perform and entairtain the enthusiastic public.
The aim of the Festival is to “spread bridges of communication and friendship, continuously promoting the idea of world peace, friendship, togetherness and solidarity with the people of the world, through popular forms of dance and music, through traditional music and dance, popular codes of expression and communication…” (Spyros Arvanitis, Vice President of the Cultural Center of Lefkada Town).
This year the International Folklore Festival of Lefkada will take place from the 18 August until the 25 August 2019.
History of the International Folklore Festival of Lefkada
The first representation of International Folklore Festival was in 1962. The event was part of the Speech and Art Events which was already organized in Lefkada town since 1955 .
The inspirer and creator of the festival was Anthonis Tzevelekis. He was President of the Association of Lefkadians in Athens. With the help of the Company of Lefkadian Studies and with support from agents of Lefkada and Orpheas Group, he realized his dream of making little Lefkada Centre for Language and Speech, Art and Culture .
The festival began with a parade along the market. A big crowd watched and cheered . The parade ended at Beach Park. Here all the bands making a huge circle were setting “great dance ” Dance of Peace and brotherhood of nations.
In 1963 the 2nd International Festival of Folk Dances and Songs of Lefkada became truly an international event. It is the only Greek festival which brings together groups from the socialist countries.
In 1964, the 3rd International Festival of Folk Dances and Songs of Lefkada was a memorable event. There were in fact also of Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis in the crowded central city square. Words cannot describe what happened when Maria Callas on August 30, sang in the loft scene the aria Cavalleria Rusticana. She was accompanied on the piano by the young musician Kyriakos Sfetsas .
The island became the focus of national and international projection and global interest.The International Folklore Festival of Lefkada continued uninterrupted during the dictatorship (70ies) despite the absence of Anthonis Tzevelekis.
During the 1990s the International Folklore Festival took place in the Venetian Castle of Agia Mavra . This is the fortress that you meet before the bridge that gives entrance to the island. The removal from the city and conduction inside the castle was done with the aim of highlighting this historical monument.
The new millennium carried the International Folklore Festival back in town. In fact the place where the Festival takes place is the Cultural Center and the Open Theatre of Lefkada. This is the building where also the Archeological Musem of Lefkada is.
To participate as a group to the International Folklore Festival of Lefkada there are a few rules for dance companies. The groups must comprise no more than 30 members, including leaders musicians, drivers and escorts. The dancers must be over 16 years of age. The group must perform only traditional dances of the country represented.
The 2019 International Folklore Festival of Lefkada
The festival this year will start on Sunday 18th of August with the dance companies parade on the main high street of Lefkada, at around 18:30. All the groups will finish their performance at the Open Theatre where the official ceremony of the event will be presented. This will be followed by all the participating dance groups performing for 5 minutes.
The groups who are participating as performer this year are coming from various part of the world.
From Asia there are 3 groups. 2 from Russia: Kytalyk and Iskorka. Another one from Iran : Diar. You can attend then the performances of the following European groups: Escola de Ball de Bot Calabruix Spain, Kartal Turkey, Karpaty Slovakia, Spanac Serbia, Perle and Rits Latvia. There are also dance companies from South America : Tongariki Chile, Elenco Mita Rory Paraguay, Grupo de danca Folklorika Cuicacalli Mexico and from Honduras the Ballet Folkloriko Nacional Yarugua. Finally a few greek dance groups including groups from Lefkada. These are: Orfeas, Apollo Karya, Pegasus, Alexander Nydri, New Choir, Dance Society of Lefkada. Finally from Chios the Cultural and Educational Association o f Neohory Chios ‘St Minas”.
Starting from Monday 19th of August every night in the Open Theatre there will be a performance of 6 dance groups. The shows usually starts at 21:00 and the tickets, purchasable at the entrance, cost around 7 Euros per night. There is also the possibility to buy a carnet of tickets at a reduced price.
On Saturday 24 August dance groups will parade in the pedestrian road and central square of Lefkada Town.
The Festival ends on Sunday 25 august 2019 at the Open Theatre of Lefkada with the Closing seremony of the 57th edition..