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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  countries. The first large-scale festival took place in 2010. The tradition has caught on. Every year the host nations welcome more and more friends from other countries.

The venue is iconic too. Since ancient times the Dnieper River has united 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, 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.

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