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.