The Ohrid Summer Festival. The first music performance, which marked the beginning of this representative international event of music and drama, took place in 1961 in Ohrid. Since that year, 43 festivals have been held annually from July 12 to August 20. The Ohrid Summer Festival has been a member of the European Festivals Association (EFA) since 1994, and is regarded as one of the most prestigious international events of its kind. The Ohrid Summer Festival programme has focussed on classical music, ballet, opera and theatre. In recent years, the Festival has also opened its doors to alternative works and performances, keeping abreast of contemporary European and international cultural developments. Most musical performances are given in the magnificent Cathedral Church of St. Sophia (11th century) with its excellent acoustics. The other summer stages are also attractive in their own right: the Classical Theatre, which holds an audience of 3,000, the vestibule of the Cathedral Church of St. Sophia, Samuel’s Fortress, and the Dolni Saraj stage.
Drama at the Ohrid Summer Festival. Drama takes a notable role within the framework of the Ohrid Summer Festival of music and theatre, with theatre projects specially prepared for this international event. Only three years after the presentation of the first musical performances at the Ohrid Summer Festival, in 1964, Shakespeare’s As You Like It, directed by Dimitar Kostarov, was performed, soon followed by the collage Laughing Is Not a Sin, produced by Ilija Milchin and Toma Kirovski. Both were performed by members of the Macedonian National Theatre.
Skopje Cultural Summer Festival. This is one of the greatest, most varied and longest cultural events in Macedonia. The Skopje Cultural Summer Festival is a member of the International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA). In the 30 days of intense cultural and artistic life, during “the off-season season” (held from June 21 to July 21 in Skopje, before an audience of more than 50 thousand), it includes musical concerts, operas, ballets and plays, art and photo-exhibitions, an attractive film programme, avant-garde performances and multimedia projects, alongside projects of its own production and numerous foreign guests. The presentations of the Skopje Cultural Summer Festival on average gather each year about 2,000 participants from around the world.
Bitola Cultural Summer. In 2003, the Cultural Centre in Bitola established the Bitola Cultural Summer, a festival that consists of concerts, operas, ballet, theatrical performances, exhibitions and presentations of literary work from Macedonia and events from the international cultural scene. The venues include the building of the Bitola Cultural Centre, the Heraclea Lyncestis archaeological site and a number of stages, galleries and other facilities in the city. The Bitola Cultural Summer festival is scheduled to take place every year from July 1 to August 10.
The Struga Poetry Evenings is one the most prestigious poetry events in the world. The event began modestly on July 15, 1961, dedicated to the hundredth anniversary of publication of the Collection of Folk Songs (1861), a major work about Macedonian folklore by the Struga-born brothers Dimitar and Konstantin Miladinov, which harbingered a Macedonian national revival. From the following year the Struga Poetry Evenings became a true international festival of poetry, held annually during the last week of August. More than 3,500 poets from all the continents of the world have participated in this celebration of poetry.
The Golden Wreath, for lifetime poetic achievement, is awarded each year by the Struga Poetry Evenings: one of the most distinguished accolades of its kind in the world. The Miladinov Brothers Award is also presented each year during the Struga Poetry Evenings for the best book of poetry by a Macedonian author.
Racin Meetings. This event is held in commemoration of Kosta Racin, the founder of modern Macedonian literature, in his native town of Veles. Since 1971 the Racin Meetings have been dedicated to prose writing as, apart from being a poet, Racin was an excellent prose writer and essayist. During the Meetings, which take place every autumn, the Racin Recognition Award is presented for the best book of prose published in the course of the previous 12 months. Since 1991 the event has become Balkan in character: Veles is today the meeting point of writers from all over the Balkans.
Linden Festival. In 1997 the Writers' Association of Macedonia organized an international poetry festival, which it called The Linden Festival. Since then it has become an on-going event, held every year in Skopje in early June, when the linden trees are in blossom. The festival bestows two major awards for poetic achievement: the Literary Sceptre for Macedonian poets, and the Literary Sceptre for foreign poets.
Other, less publicized events are also held in Macedonia each year, such as the Days Below Kozjak in Kumanovo, the Little Messenger Meetings in Kicevo, the Gathering at Podgorci in the Struga region, and the Galichnik Meetings at Galichnik.
May Opera Evenings (MOE). The May Opera Evenings has been held in Skopje since 1972. Since then the MOE has developed as a music event dedicated to opera and making opera more popular among the public. It has evolved into a stage on which artists from some 50 countries across the globe have performed with distinction to high international standards Participating in all the performances of the MOE, which is an exceptional challenge for any professional, the Opera Company of the Macedonian National Theatre (with the regular assistance of the Theatre’s Ballet Company) has grown into an ensemble of high international ranking.
TE-HO. The biennial event known as TE-HO, or Tetovo Choir Echoes, was, and still is, the chief proponent of advanced choral singing in Macedonia. The first performances of this festival, the only of its kind in the country, date back to the year 1973. Since then, during the second week of June of every relevant year, more than 300 choirs take part in the event. Over the last two festivals, TE-HO has become international in character with the participation of choirs from Albania, Bulgaria and Serbia and Montenegro.
Interfest. It was in 1991 in Bitola that this festival of classical music was organized for the first time. Numerous distinguished names have participated, including musicians from Russia, Slovenia, Norway, Italy, France, Serbia and Montenegro, and Macedonia. The Interfest festival is not of a competitive character and takes place every year from October 1 to 12.
Skopje Jazz Festival. The Skopje Jazz Festival is a leading music event in the Republic of Macedonia with a tradition of 22 years and an excellent reputation in Europe and around the world. It is regarded as one of the best jazz festivals in Europe. The event was established in 1982 by a group of jazz enthusiasts from Skopje.
The festival is held every year in the third week of October, over five or six consecutive days. The programmes have included performances of all jazz styles. The Skopje Jazz Festival is a non-governmental, non-profit organization.
Blues and Soul Festival. This event is relatively new on the Macedonian arts scene, having taken place only seven times in its annual slot in Skopje every summer between July 1 and 4, as a part of the Skopje Cultural Summer Festival. Despite its short life so far, many important names in the world of blues and soul have been guests in the Blues and Soul Festival, including Larry Coriel, Mick Taylor & All Stars Blues Band, Candy Dulfer & Funky Stuff, João Bosco, The Temptations, Tolo Marton Trio, Blues Wire, Phil Guy, Nick & The Backbone, Blues Company, Vasil Hadzimanov Band, Mama’s Pit, Nico Wayne Toussaint, Kimbiza, Rod Barthet Band, Mr. Lucky and Sen-Sa-Shun Band, Juke Joint Express, Muscle Theory, and David “Honeyboy” Edwards.
The Balkan Festival of Folk Song and Dance. This festival, established in 1968, is traditionally held each year from July 5 to 10 in Ohrid. Despite its ‘Balkan’ designation and even though most participants are folklore ensembles from Balkan countries, folklore groups from a number of other European countries as well as Australia, Canada and the United States have appeared on stage as a part of the event in recent years.
Ilinden Days, National Festival of Folk Song and Dance. The Ilinden Days Festival of Folk Song and Dance was established in 1971. It gathers a large number of cultural and musical societies that present original folklore and the traditional customs of their countries. The festival is of a competitive character and has hosted guests from all over the globe, including Japan, United States, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Italy. This annual event takes place in Bitola from July 29 to August 1.
Pece Atanasovski Festival. This Balkan folk music festival, which features musical interpretations based on traditional instruments, bears the name of Pece Atanasovski, a virtuoso of several musical instruments and the winner of some of the highest international awards and accolades, including the Gold Bagpipes Award in Erice, Italy, in a competition which included 1,800 musicians from around the world. Established in 1974, the festival has been held every year in late June and early July in the village of Dolneni, in the Prilep region, attracting between 350 and 400 musicians from Macedonia and many other countries, including the UK (Scotland and England), Serbia, Bulgaria, Germany and France.
Sara Sings.A festival of original ethnic Albanian music, it was first held in 1994 and returns each year in late June in Tetovo. Members of the Association of Albanian Cultural and Artistic Ensemble of Macedonia are eligible to participate in what is a competitive event.
Këngë Jeho (A Song Resounds). This is a festival of adapted Albanian folk songs and dances. The event is held in Struga, on August 7, 8 and 9.
Hid-bah Sen-Fest. This international festival of spring celebrations of ethnic Turks in Macedonia has been held since 1993 in the village of Calakli, in the Valandovo region. The event lasts from May 6 to 8.
Vojdan Chernodrinski Theatre Festival. The first performances of this festival of professional Macedonian theatre companies took place between June 4 and 10, 1965 in Prilep, organized by the Association of Drama Artists. The festival bears its name after the founder of drama and theatrical life in Macedonia, Vojdan Chernodrinski (1875-1951). Ever since, for one week (June 4-10) every year in Prilep, the festival has presented the best achievements of Macedonian professional theatres. This event includes plays by European and other international playwrights, while every four years, it is fully dedicated to Macedonian playwrights and dramaturges. The festival is of competitive character: each year it bestows awards for best performance in general, for best actor, best direction, best text by a Macedonian author, best set design, best costume design, best marketing material, best young actor and best supporting actor. The festival’s greatest accolade is the Lifetime Achievement Award. For nearly 40 years the Vojdan Chernodrinski Festival has played a decisive role in raising the quality of Macedonian theatre, promoting modern Macedonian drama, literature and overall professionalism in theatre.
The Open Youth Theatre Festival. In May 1976 a group of young enthusiasts founded the Open Youth Theatre Festival (MOT) in Skopje. More than 250 theatrical performances have been presented at this festival so far, most of them by alternative, experimental theatre groups engaging young writers and actors. On the territory of the former Yugoslavia, the Open Youth Theatre was a festival in which everyone wished to take part and display their talent. For several years now, the Open Youth Theatre has been an international festival: to date, guest performances within its framework have been given in Skopje by groups from the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, the United States, France, the Soviet Union, Russia, Spain, Japan, Poland, Italy, the United Kingdom, India and other countries. Recently, the Open Youth Theatre became a member of the Brussels Informal European Theatre Meeting (IETM), a network of 250 world theatre festivals, institutes and companies. Within the framework of the Open Youth Theatre, a Macedonian National Centre of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) was established, and at the 25th ITI World Congress in Munich in 1993, it was received as a regular member of this theatre association.
Risto Shishkov Festival of Chamber Theatre. The first performance of this unique theatrical event, which bears the name of the prominent Macedonian actor Risto Shishkov (1940-1980), took place in 1993. During its first decade the festival presented the best chamber drama performances of the preceding 12 months in the Republic of Macedonia, but in recent years it has acquired an international character with the participation of chamber theatre groups from Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro. The event is held every year in early September.
International Festival of Monodrama. In 1999 the Cultural Centre in Bitola founded the first festival of monodrama in the Republic of Macedonia. The following year, 2000, this event became international in character. During the past five years, the festival showed about 50 monodramas performed by the same number of actors from various countries, including Greece, Ukraine, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia, all of whom competed for the single Best Monodrama Award. Among the actors who have received the accolade are Vili Matula from Croatia and Zijah Sokolovi} from Bosnia-Herzegovina. The event takes place in Bitola in the first week of July and shows two performances daily over the five-day programme.
The Actor of Europe International Theatre Festival. The Actor of Europe Festival was established in 2003 with the aim of stimulating theatre culture in the Prespa region, which lies at the junction of Macedonia, Greece and Albania. Taking part in the first edition of the event were actors from Belgium, France, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia and Macedonia. The first Actor of Europe Award was presented to Marius Kurkinski from Bulgaria. The festival is held in the resort of Otesevo, on the shores of Lake Prespa, in early July.
Galichnik Art Colony.This internationally renowned colony was founded in 1990. Its aesthetic values have made it one of the most significant art events of its kind in Macedonia. About 150 eminent artists have participated in the colony and added to the collection of over 180 paintings and sculptures. Enjoying an enviable reputation, and with its aim to grow into a year-round arts event accessible to a larger circle of artists, the Galichnik Art Colony has established contacts and cooperation with prestigious art centres where it has organized numerous exhibitions. The colony takes place every year between August 15 and 25 in the village of Galichnik.
Contemporary Art Centre, Prilep. This is the only event in the sphere of contemporary art that organizes four international art workshops — on painting, marble sculpture, wood sculpture and metal sculpture — and occasionally pottery, graphic art, virtrage, watercolour and other techniques. This annual event takes place in Prilep from July 1 to August 10. The Centre, which has recently celebrated its 48th anniversary, in addition to regular workshops, runs gallery exhibitions and holds symposia on various subjects of contemporary art. More than 1,100 artists from 117 countries from all over the world have participated in its activities, and the total collection now exceeds 1,500 works of art.
Resen Pottery Colony. The Resen Pottery Colony is 32 years old. During this lengthy period, more than 750 works of art have been produced in the colony’s studio in the resort of Otesevo, on Lake Prespa, by 150 pottery artists from numerous European countries and the United States. As a result, the imposing Saraj building, constructed a century ago, houses a gallery of 300 square metres, the only one of its kind in the Balkans, where all the exhibits are on display. Numerous exhibitions in the country and abroad have been organized with the purpose of enhancing the cultural presentation of the Colony, which comes under the protection of UNESCO. The Colony is held every year between August 1 and 20.
St. Joachim of Osogovo International Art Colony. This is the only event in Macedonia directly involved in the promotion of the cultural tradition of Macedonian monasteries. The Colony, which is organized every year in September, in the outbuilding of the Monastery of St. Joachim of Osogovo, near Kriva Palanka, aims to unite the spiritual energy of Macedonian contemporary painting in productive confrontation with different art cultures. It is 18 years old and has so far attracted 230 artists from around the world.
International Strumica Art Colony.With its uninterrupted activity of 41 years, this Colony has become the ambassador for Macedonia’s creative accomplishments in art, and particularly for the affirmation of the country. Strumica has become a part of Europe’s artistic geography and a centre of cultural dialogue. The Strumica Art Gallery, the organizer of this prestigious art event, now owns more than 1,600 works of art in various techniques, which makes it one of the richest cultural and art institutions in Macedonia.
Manaki Brothers International Festival of Film Camera. The festival was established in 1979 and during the early years presented first-class feature films of what was then Yugoslavia. Soon, however, it grew into a notable international event. In the course of the past 24 years, the festival has presented about 250 films from around the world. During this time, eminent masters of the camera have received the festival’s prestigious Camera 300 Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards, including such names as Freddie Francis, Walter Carvallo, Tonino Delli Colli, Christopher Doyle and Tieri Arbogast.
This event is held every year during the last week of September in the Cultural Centre in Bitola. The festival is included in the Chart of International Film Festivals.
All cultural and artistic events are financially supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Macedonia.