A myriad of programs awaits visitors in Pécs this summer . With the M60 motorway finally completed, it takes no more than 2 hours to reach Hungary’s most Mediterranean city.
The selection of programs for the European cultural year in the southern Hungarian city of Pecs, one of the cultural capitals of Europe this year are nearing the half way mark. In 2010 – according to the certificate of merit that Pécs has gained along with Essen, Germany and Istanbul, Turkey –, more international and Hungarian festivals are debuting in this city than ever before. Many have moved to Pécs from other cities, others are organized for the special occasion. You should not be surprised if, for example, at a bus stop, on the street or at a railway station some people suddenly start performing a play. It is just one very exciting example of the many festivals held in Pecs also during the summer period.
Pécs abounds in open-air performances all summer long, many of them being part of the Pecs Open-Air Theatre Festival held in three venues, the Tettye Ruins, the Anna Courtyard and the open-air stage in Káptalan Street. Some of the plays or concerts are performed by renowned Hungarian, others by international musicians and artists. The Anna Courtyard hosts a grand-scale dance production of the widely-known groups, the Honvéd Dance Ensemble, the Budapest Dance Ensemble and the National Dance Theatre, entitled ‘Monarchy’. Anna Courtyard also serves as a venue for the performance of the Children’s Theater of Osijek and the Croatian Theater of Pécs, who will stage the evergreen story of Ferenc Molnár. ‘The Boys from Pál Street’ is directed by János Szikora. Besides Hungarian-related pieces, a classical and evergreen play by Shakespeare, ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ will also be performed in the courtyard by the University Stage of Pecs. Croatian art will also be represented this summer; the artists of the Osijek Ballet Company dance the story of Peter Pan on the open-air stage in Káptalan Street. The internationally acknowledged Hungarian group, the 100-member Gipsy Orchestra will also give a concert on Aug 7 in Káptalan Street. Hungarian music and Hungarian rhythms are also very popular among foreign tourists. Thus, at the Tettye Ruins, the performance of ‘The Transylvanian Spinning Room’ composed by Zoltán Kodály will certainly be very popular.
Dancing in the street
Hot summer Wednesday evenings will feature outdoor dance houses where people can learn the traditional dances of the various ethnic minorities (German, Croatian, Serbian, Romany, Greek, Bulgarian) living in and around Pecs as well as those from other European countries. This series of events, which creates a very special and truly Mediterranean atmosphere in the city center, is popular with every generation.
Another series of events, the ‘Borderless mystery’ begins in June. The main characteristic feature of these programs is that they are organized in the name of sacredness. The venues include the Djami of Jakovali Hassan, the Pauline church and the Pauline ruin-monastery on Jakab Hill, the Cathedral of Pécs, the Lyceum church and many more.
A message to the future
A memorable event such as the European cultural year should not be forgotten and fall into oblivion without leaving a trace. Preventing this is the purpose of the Future Stone initiative that will commemorate the cultural programs with help from the visitors. The Future Stones are small pyrogranite plates made in the Zsolnay Factory for distribution at the Pécs2010 InfoPoint (7 Széchenyi Square). In return for a symbolic contribution of HUF 2010, anyone wishing to do so may draw or paint the message of his or her choice to the future on one of these individually numbered plates. The buyer of a plate will receive a certificate on site confirming that he or she has left a personal trace in the borderless city. After drying, each plate is taken to the Zsolnay Factory for firing, and then they will go on public display.
Festivals at Bikal Adventure Park
Since its opening in April, the renaissance adventure estate near Pecs hosts many programs. They organize two festivals during the first month of summer: the Commedia Dell’ Arte and the Seven-trial Family Adventure. The former festival travels back to the courtyards of the kings St. Stephen and Matthias in time. Visitors, who go to Bikal during these two days, get to know more about medieval folk art and culture. They will be able to listen to sagas, historical songs and verse-chronicles. Besides listening to the exciting stories, medieval legends may come to life again.
There is festival especially for families. Organizers at the adventure estate are expecting all generations of a family during these days, from grandparents to grandchildren. The tournaments and bravery tests that the groups will face are based on the games and trials that had often been organized in the medieval ages. The most talented and bravest families winning during the seven preliminary rounds will be able to compete in the final.