dissabte, 2 d’agost de 2014

Tortosa recreates the Renaissance with its annual international festival

From Thursday 24th to Sunday 27th of July more than 200,000 people visited Tortosa, located in the Ebro Delta area in southern Catalonia, which took a trip back in time to the splendor of the sixteenth century. The nineteenth edition of the Renaissance Festival ended with a positive assessment by the City Council. The Mayor of Tortosa, Ferran Bel, highlighted the consolidation of the event and the high participation numbers with many international visitors, including foreign tourists and participanting companies, such as theatre groups, music bands and food traders. Bel also revealed that development work would soon take place in the old town of Tortosa and further changes would be introduced to improve next year's event. The Mayor said the festival had attracted considerable attention not only in southern Europe, but across the entire continent.

A street festival picturing life in Tortosa in the 16th century
This year the Renaissance Festival's programme included 60 daily shows and 600 artists in total, with a large participation of foreign companies from France, Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Portugal. In addition, up to 3,000 residents and shopkeepers from the city were directly involved in the festival process.

Regarding traditional festival performances, like La Taverna d'Enrico by Quico el Célio, el Noi and el Mut de Ferreries, the programme included performances by the first group of torchbearers, who participated in the festival the Sbandleratori of Arezzo (Italy), or surrealist creatures of the French company Ourobouros, who had performed in the festival in previous years. Dance and theatrical performances, fire shows, five installations by the street traders, gastronomic taverns within the Ruta de la Saboga and traditional dishes served in restaurants added a specific vividness and colorfulness to the celebration.

Tortosa, rich historical and cultural heritage
Tortosa is a city located in the Baix Ebre County, in the south of Catalonia, with a heritage that goes back more than two thousand years. The city bloomed thanks to its strategic location, since it is in a central position is approximately 200 km from large cities such as Barcelona, Saragossa and Valencia. It is located by the Ebro River, where its delta and the Ports hill range begin. Ancient Tortosa was the second city in Medieval Catalonia after Barcelona and was used as both a port and a market for receiving and distributing products from the Iberian Peninsula and from the Mediterranean area.

The City Council is pleased with this edition
The 19th Tortosa Renaissance Festival finished on Sunday afternoon with the Grand Parade and the closing ceremony of the city gates. After four days the festival gained a very positive evaluation from the Mayor of Tortosa, Ferran Bel, who stressed the consolidation of the festival at an international level. According to him, promotional campaigns which have been conducted around Catalonia are one of the main reasons for this high level of participation that brought together foreign companies from Portugal, France, Hungary, Italy and the Czech Republic, as well as tourists from all over Europe (mostly French and some Russians), who visited Tortosa last week.

Bel, who has been in office for eight years, admitted that the Tortosa Renaissance Festival was reaching the greatest size possible. He revealed some town planning improvements, which will take place in the old Moncada and Bonaire streets, in Montserrat Square and Mossèn Sol Square. The installation of an underground car park in the middle of the town´s old neighbourhood will also prompt changes in the festival. Bel thanked volunteers and town organisations that had cooperated and were directly involved in the event. He stated that because of them the Tortosa Renaissance Festival has attracted a considerable attention "not only in southern Europe, but throughout the entire continent and the festival is expected to continue growing at the same rate."

Changes made to improve the festival
According to Tortosa Councilman for Celebrations, Domingo Tomàs, the show exceeded "all initial expectations." He said some changes were introduced, for instance, the new service for selling tickets via the Internet, which ensured fast and functioning organisation this year. Domingo informed that some other "specific adjustments" will occur in the system in order to improve the festival in the future.

The run-up to the twentieth edition
Next year the Renaissance Festival will celebrate its twentieth anniversary. Although there is still much time left, Domingo announced that the organising team, which usually has 85% of the event scheduled by March, already has some shows assigned for 2015, and is organising the festival's twentieth anniversary party. Finally, Domingo praised what he called "mirror effect", since "the best companies, say that it is the best party in which they have participated."

CNA / Neringa Sinkeviciute

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