The International Arts Festival Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk has become a trademark of the Republic of Belarus. For years, the music forum has been promoting cross-cultural dialogue between nations and countries.
Organized by Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, the first festival was held in Vitebsk on 18 July 1992. It was designed to introduce city residents and guests to Slavonic song folklore.
In 1993, the Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk became a member of the International Federation of Festival Organizations (FIDOF). The same year the geography of the festival broadened to include participants from Slovakia, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Turkey, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia.
Since 1995 the festival has been held under the patronage of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. The same year the Slavonic Bazaar became to be known as the International Festival of Arts.
The first satellite broadcast of the festival was launched in 1996, which made it possible to show the forum all over the world.
In 2009 an alley was unveiled in Vitebsk to honor the winners of the Prize of Belarus’ President "Towards peace and mutual understanding through art".
The 20th International Arts Festival Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk was held in 2011. For 20 years, Vitebsk welcomed more than 55,000 participants from 68 countries. The Summer Amphitheater, the main stage of Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk, hosted 316 concerts which were attended by about 3 million people.
The International Song Contest in Vitebsk has been the highlight of the festival since 1992. The International Children’s Song Contest as well as fascinating cinema and theater shows are also held within the framework of the music forum.
We cannot imagine the festival without plein-air exhibitions of modern artists and fairs of artisans. The Union State Day, the gala performance of artists from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, Festival without Borders, theatrical meetings, "Zvezdny Chas" have become integral part of the festival.
In 2000 the Slavonic Bazaar set a record bringing together representatives of all Slavonic nations.
The FIDOF awarded the festival with the diploma “Festival of the Year” in 2000 and 2004. In 2005 Vitebsk played host to the Assembly of the International Federation of Festival Organizations (FIDOF), which meant the high level recognition of the festival.
The 25th International Festival of Arts Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk was held from 14 to 18 July. Additional events took place on 12-13 and 19-20 July.
This year’s main themes were the Year of Culture, the 71st anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War and the 25th anniversary of the festival. Musicians, artists and journalists paraded through the streets of Vitebsk on the opening day of the festival.
This year the famous alley of the winners of Belarus President’s special award "Through Art to Peace and Mutual Understanding" was extended to the Square of Stars and the banner of the Slavonic Bazaar Festival was added to the flags of the participating countries that fly high near the Summer Amphitheatre.
The colors this year was mainly blue, the symbol of creativity, unity and friendship. The cornflower, the long-year logo of the festival, was supplemented with mirror crystals, shiny balls, Belarusian ornaments and flags of the participating countries.
The Summer Amphitheater hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the festival, music programs such as Union State Invites, Vitebsk Gathers Friends and 25 Moments of Summer featuring the National Concert Orchestra under the baton of Belarus’ People’s Artist, Professor Mikhail Finberg…
The program of the forum comprised events to mark the 75th birthday of People’s Artist of USSR and Belarus Vladimir Mulyavin: the rock opera Song About the Fate, Pesnyar Musical and a concert-portrait featuring Piotr Yelfimov.
By tradition, the main draw of the festival was the international song contest Vitebsk 2016. Partaking in it were representatives of 45 countries, including debutants from Argentina and Colombia. The international jury was led by famous singer, actor and composer, People’s Artist of Russia Valery Leontyev.
The jury of the children’s song contest Vitebsk 2016 was chaired by Viktor Babarykin, art director and chief conductor of the Presidential Orchestra of the Republic of Belarus. Anastasia Zhabko from Minsk represented Belarus.
The festival program featured concerts by bronze winner of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest Sergei Lazarev, Valery Leontiev, Alexander Rosenbaum, Kristina Orbakaite, Diana Arbenina and The Night Snipers band, the art group Turetsky Choir, and a night performance by Maksim Galkin with the participation of one of Russia’s most popular singers Alla Pugacheva.
Apart from concerts, the program also included entertainment projects, such as Festival Without Borders, Puppet Quarter, the folk costume festival Stitches of Workmanship, Street Art Fest, the marathon contest of reciters that will enter the Slavonic Bazaar Book of Records, as well as the much-loved shows Golden Hit, Stars of Chanson TV, Еuropa Plus TV. Hit Non Stop, and the open air festival "Vitebsk Dance Night" featuring the world’s best DJs.
Besides, for the first time, the Vitebsk Art Museum put on display Marc Chagall’s famous Bathing of a Baby and Black Lovers, the unique Vitaut’s silver belt, and thirteen works by eminent Belarusian artist Ivan Khrutsky that were on show at the Louvre in 2010.