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| Home | Travel | Ethno-Tourism | Alexandria Gathers Friends

Kupala Night Festival Alexandria Gathers Friends

Shrouded in myths and legends, the ancient Kupala Night feast has been celebrated in Belarus for many centuries. Every year, in late June - early July, Belarusians gather for the festival to weave Kupala wreaths, make wishes, light bonfires, sing songs and look for the mysterious paparats-kvetka (fern flower)...

The country’s biggest venue where the Kupala Night festival is celebrated in style is the town of Alexandria. Thousands of visitors come to Shklov District, Mogilev Oblast, to spend one of the shortest summer nights enjoying a colorful action on the picturesque bank of the Dnieper River, which is also called the river of friendship.

Alexandria gathers friends not only from all over Belarus but also from the neighboring Russia and Ukraine. The three East Slavic peoples have celebrated the Kupala Night Festival for almost 10 years already: the first large-scale festival took place in 2010, and already in 2011 it welcomed participants from Russia’s Smolensk Oblast and Ukraine’s Kiev Oblast. The tradition has caught on. Every year the host nations - Belarusians, Russians and Ukrainians – welcome more and more friends from other countries.

The venue is iconic too. Since ancient times the Dnieper River has united the three East Slavic peoples. It has been the artery of the famous trade route from the the Varangians to the Greeks linking people, cities and states.

Today the bridge, near which the festival is held, connects two districts of Belarus - Shklov District in Mogilev Oblast and Orsha District in Vitebsk Oblast. It connects the town of Kopys and the town of Alexandria, the hometown of the country’s president. Aleksandr Lukashenko supported the holiday of the sister nations that share common traditions, historical and cultural events.

Kupala Night Festival in Alexandria has become a true brand of Belarus. When it was held for the first time, it gathered 3,000 people, while in 2018 the number of participants exceeded 110,000. Those were not only Belarusians, but also guests from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland and Germany.

The venue of the festival is expanding. So is the festival’s program that now features folk games, round dances, fire jumping, wreath weaving, search for the miraculous fern flower, arts and crafts, fairs, amusement rides, master classes and competitions.

The festival usually culminates with a gala concert. Many Belarusian and foreign performers have taken to the stage of Alexandria over this time. Among them were Aleksandr Buinov, Nina Sharubina, Vera Brezhneva, Taisia Povaliy, Tina Karol, Igor Kornelyuk, Alyona Lanskaya, Aleksandr Solodukha, Sergei Trofimov, Isuyi Abalyan, Inna Afanasieva and many more.

Festival’s History

The festival turned into a large-scale event in 2010. Back then the festival was attended by Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko. He walked through the festival venues and was pleasantly surprised to see many people there: the festival drew visitors from the neighboring villages and towns, including Orsha, Shklov, Mogilev and Minsk.

The Dnieper River is an important part of the festival’s concept. It was the major theme of the festival in 2011. Back then foreign artists performed at the festival for the first time. The Kupala Night over the Dnieper River festival featured artists from Russia and Ukraine.

In 2012, the City of Artisans spread out along the Dnieper River. Expositions of artisans from three countries were set up along the City streets that radiated from the center like the rays of the sun, the main symbol of the Kupala Night. The festival included a business program for the first time. The program featured a session of the Pridneprovie Chambers of Commerce and Industry Association, a meeting of businessmen from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, and an exhibition.

In 2013, the Kupala Night Festival in Alexandria showcased new projects, hosted flax, kvass and beer-themed events, master classes by the participants of the international ceramics plain air Art Zhyzhal, and the exhibition “Archeological Findings of Upper Podneprovie”.

In 2014, the festival united three large-scale fairs of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The event featured a stylized Belarusian house where visitors were entertained and treated to dozens of national potato dishes.   

In 2015, Maksim Sokol’s musical Paparats Kvetka made its debut at the festival. After the premiere the play went on a tour around Belarusian cities. Theatrical performances became another good tradition of the Kupala Night Festival in Alexandria.

In 2016, the “Kupala Town of Friendship” hosted guests from the neighboring countries who came to showcase their culture and cuisine. The first excursion around the festival’s landmarks took place in Alexandria that year.

In 2017, the Alexandria festival, already international, presented a circus and musical show Kupalski Son (Kupala Dream) featuring performers from Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland.

A musical show Native Land was the central event of the festival last year. The 2018 festival also featured the Days of Ukrainian Culture with its Sorochyntsi Fair, a tasting of the national cuisine, and a performance of the equestrian theater Kievan Rus.

Kupala Night Festival (Alexandria Gathers Friends 2019)

The three Years of Native Land was the major theme of the Kupala Night Festival in Alexandria. The festival, which was celebrated on 6-7 July, welcomed numerous guests on the picturesque bank of the Dnieper River. Participants from seven countries (Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland) performed on stage and displayed their crafts at the fair.

The Kupala Night Festival featured the art project Creativity of Youth with a show program Fairytale About a Wonder Flower, concerts of young and aspiring musicians, circus acts, a workout zone, and entertainments for children.

The program also featured the Festival of Kvass with a presentation of a branded beverage which was brewed using a unique recipe, a book fair and a book printing corner, concerts and discos.

The line-up of the Made in Belarus gala concert included Belarusian and foreign singers: Yuulia Bikova, Tina Karol, Aleksandr Solodukha, Alyona Lanskaya, Lev Leshchenko, Anatoly Yarmolenko.

By tradition, the president came to attend the Kupala Night festival in his hometown. “Here in Belarus we offer our greatest treasures – cultural, spiritual, handmade and culinary ones – to each and every guest with open hearts. And we are doing it with world-famous Belarusian hospitality. I am saying all this not because I am here and this is my native land. I have travelled the world throughout these years, and I believe that Belarusians are the most hospitable people. This is our brand, our distinctive feature,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized. “I am convinced that our meetings should be continued!”

Alexandria Gathers Friends 2020 to be held under UNESCO’s patronage

The annual Kupala Night Festival (Alexandria Gathers Friends) on the bank of the Dnieper River in the agro-town of Alexandria, Shklov District will take place on 11-12 July. This year, the festival will be running under the patronage of UNESCO.

Founded ten years ago, the festival in Alexandria has turned into the country’s signature event. It draws visitors not only from Belarus, but also from Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and other countries. Last year’s festival brought together over 65,000 people.

This year, all districts of Belarus and the city of Minsk will put up pavilions that will host festivals, art contests, plein air and other events, reflecting the unique image of every part of Belarus.

On the first day of the festival, visitors of the event will be offered a tour of the pavilions. The festival will feature an exhibition of Minsk Tractor Works, a fair of baked goods, a kvass fest, the youth exposition “Corridor of Epochs”, and Alexandria’s Market. Alexandria will also welcome the finalists of the nationwide agricultural family contest Lord of the Village.

The Book Fest will introduce visitors to the national literary heritage. The festival will also feature a presentation of the program of Belarusian Written Language Day that will be celebrated in Belynichi on 6 September.

A tent circus will offer a variety of circus performances.

The Vesyalukha company of the Mogilev Regional Philharmonic will demonstrate their vocal skills while Belarusian manufacturers will show their new linen collections. The line-up of the children's disco will feature arts groups, participants of the TV show "Voice. Children” from Mogilev Oblast, clowns and animators.

The national festival will officially open at 17h00 with an entertainment program featuring artists of the Mogilev Regional Philharmonic. A ceremony to honor the winners and participants of the Lord of the Village project will be held in the evening and will be followed by a concert by the folk instruments orchestra named after Belarus People's Artist Leonid Ivanov and The Feedback band. The Kulagin Mogilev DOSAAF Aeroclub will perform demonstration flights of planes and parachutists.

The gala concert will begin on the main stage at 21h30 and will wrap up with a colorful fireworks display. The festivities will continue with the youth disco featuring Ivan Vabishchevich, artists of the Mogilev Regional Philharmonic and the country's leading DJs.

The best agricultural workers of Mogilev Oblast will be honored in an official ceremony on the second day of the festival that will also feature the folk instruments orchestra named after Belarus People's Artist Leonid Ivanov and the Pesnyary band. The program of the second day also includes a circus festival and a concert by Belarusian song and dance company Medunitsa.

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