The Slovenia Times

The Meeting Place for Hot August Nights



Various aspects of street life are, especially in summer, very important for the soul of every city in the world. Inside these structures we can discover or re-discover different approaches towards urban cultural settlement. Ljubljana holds a couple of summer festivals, but only a few of these are accessible without paying an entrance fee. One of the most significant non-commercial events is the Trnfest International Summer Festival, which takes place on the south side of Ljubljana in front of Trnovo's France Preseren Culture and Art Club (KUD), near the picturesque boardwalk by the Ljubljanica river. Between July 27th and August 31st, Trnfest will offer more than 200 events from different cultural genres and aspects, centred on both domestic and international performers who are less well-known. The program bravely sails between (youth) underground and the digestive mainstream, but we have to understand that determinism is relative to its basis. The Trnfest Festival is not unique in Slovenian space, but it's different, mainly because it's a warm celebration of summer life in the city. It gives Ljubljana a special touch. After twelve festivals it has become widely known and an equal partner in the capital city's tourist offering. In some way it has became competition to other festivals and/or accidental street happenings (mainly alongside the Ljubljanica river). Over the years the festival has taken many low punches because of KUD's unsuitable architecture. Organizers and visitors were regular guests in the police files - rumours have it that there are about eight extensive fascicles where the "demolition" of the Trnovo neighbourhood by noise, drinking, just hanging etc. are recorded... urban nonsense! Unfortunately many city residents don't understand the meaning of urban life and take every opportunity to destroy the normal street beat (this isn't just a Ljubljana phenomenon), especially if an event has the adjective alternative. But Trnfest survived. An international summer festival will again bless Ljubljana, mainly from the summer stage in front of KUD France Preseren. Some events will also take place inside KUD (particularly in the event of rain) and on the streets of Ljubljana. The festival will also be accompanied by the Emona promenade festival (August 27 - 31). Through the five weeks the festival will feature an agitating programme of concerts, theatre, dance performances, literary readings, film screenings, exhibitions and visual arts events. But that's not all. As tradition dictates, the festival will be accompanied by a variety of creative workshops (music, dance, theatre, etc.) mentored by selected artists. Andreja Bucina, coordinator and selector of the Trnfest programme, explains how it all happened and what its characteristics are now. The festival is trying to satisfy the different tastes of different generations. It is attempting to produce a quality programme free of charge. Even though it is low budget, there are two or three well-known musical stars every year at the festival. However, the priority is to invite groups that are not so well known, or even unknown, here and give them a chance to perform in front of a bigger audience. All the performances will take place in the usual location, except for the Emona promenade, which has became a separate festival under the patronage of Trnfest. As usual, there is a part of the programme dedicated to children, who were and still are after all, one the motivating factors for the festival and for the France Preseren Cultural Club that has organised the festival since its inception. The evenings of the festival are divided according to a theme; such as theatre performances, concerts, openings of exhibitions, children's performances, etc. Maybe, there is some more music on the programme this year, but the festival continues to be multi-media or multi-genre, in the manner in which it was originally intended. The novelty this year is a DJ programme in the hall every night after the evening performances. As Trnovo is regarded a mainly residential area, the performances on the main stage have to be finished by 10 p.m. and the programme can only continue indoors. The festival was seriously threatened three years ago for overlooking this aspect. Actually, it was an issue of trying to renew the permits for the loud outdoor performances at the same time that a numbers of complaints from the neighbours were processed. However, the motivation for the festival was never at stake. The number of festival visitors has increased every year. Thirteen years ago, it all started with summer weekends featuring live music and theatre performances on a small stage, and even without one, in front of few tables with a small audience. Last year around 40,000 people visited the festival during the month, which meant that on particular evenings, like the Kuban music evening, we had more than 2,000 visitors at once. The place was full, including the parking space. The problems with the noisy crowd could be resolved by changing the location of the festival. We had some ideas and were enthusiastic about it for awhile, but we were unable to find any satisfactory solution to it. There were also financial concerns that limited the extent of the festival. The staff of the festival is also relatively small, so new crew members are always welcomed.


More from Nekategorizirano