The Paleariza Festival is one of Calabria’s most important cultural events and one of Italy’s most significant ethnic and folk music festivals.
It is held in Greek Calabria to foster intercultural relations, by bringing together the traditional music of the Greeks of Calabria and that of the other Mediterranean peoples, also with a view to valorising ecological tourism in the Graecanic Aspromonte hinterland.
Established in 1997 at the behest of the Graecanic area’s GAL, over the years it has grown from both an artistic and cultural point of view. The number of visitors has increased, as has the involvement of the local population and communities. From being a local festival it has turned into a national event, aimed at renewing the area’s musical heritage and promoting its territory, while becoming the destination of cultural tourism.
Every year, in the month of August, the 14 Old towns and hamlets of the area are involved in this Graecanic Festival, now the chosen destination of thousands of visitors and tourists. The estimated aggregate attendance at the events is about 30,000, with audiences of 3,500 at some of the musical highlights. The local economy also derives enjoyment and benefit from the festival. Hospitality in the villages and in farmhouse-accommodation facilities and meals serving local produce like wine, charcuterie, cheese, oil and traditional cuisine, offer tourists and visitors a top-quality, authentic welcome.
In 2011, the Italian Ministry of Tourism awarded it the Patrimonio d’Italia seal of quality, conferred on cultural events which help enhance the image of Italy and create new flows of tourism. This Special Prize was awarded to Paleariza as an expression of the Italian tradition (the only manifestation of the Italian tradition in Calabria) for having distinguished itself by keeping the folklore of its territory alive while renewing and adapting the tradition to the changes wrought by time.
The Festival Calendar of events
The 2016 Paleariza Festival offered a series of events and cultural activities aimed at further enhancing its Greek-Calabrian traditional musical rationale, by promoting cultural exchanges and integration among the many of the contemporary world’s ethnic idenities present. The aim was to create a more profound relationship between audiences and the territory by attracting new flows of visitors.
The Festival was divided into the following categories:
– Cultural initiatives (Theatre, Literature, Language, Dance, Photography, DocuFilm screenings, Workshops, Guided tours)
– Expositions (Publishing, Food& beverages, Arts & Crafts)
– Ecological tourism and trekking
The section devoted to Concerts aimed at promoting artists from Mediterranean musical cultural areas, in order to recover characteristic aspects of performance and specific features of the musical heritage of the Greeks of Calabria and of the so-called sonu a ballo tradition.
The Cultural Initiatives section is informed by endeavours by the Graecanic Area’s GAL to set up the Cultural Park of Greek Calabria. As part of the Paleariza Festival, a number of Cultural Park Productions are offered to visitors to Greek Calabria.
The Expositions section aims at contextualising Greek Calabria, a culture of hospitality deeply rooted in the rural way of life. This way the idea is to encourage the area to make contact with those attending the festival by acquainting them with what the territory has to offer, by setting up stands / workshops promoting local handicrafts, food and wine. Inside the Exposition area, a stand provides publications by the Cultural Park of Greek Calabria (books, postcards, posters, multimedia items).
In the month of September, at the Germaneto Cittadella Regionale, La Settimana del Parco Culturale della Calabria Greca [Greek Calabria’s Cultural Park week] will be held and present the following:
- A photographic Exhibition entitled The Majia Images and other enchantments of Greek Calabria , care of Paola Gareri
- Spiti ti Musiki – House of Music – An exhibition of Greek-Calabrian Musical Instruments by the Instrument-Makers themselves
- Faji Kalò – Greek Calabria Food &Wine Day
- Theatrical Performance of The Majia – Tales and Myths of Depopulation, care of Stefania Gareri, in collaboration with the Carmen Flack Theatre Academy, Mileto, and the Academy of Fine Arts, Reggio Calabria
- Screenings of the DocuFilm Grecanica l’Essenza [Graecanic, the Essence], in collaboration with the Lombardi Satriani Med Media Cooperative
- Meetings with the authors of publications by the Greek Calabrian Cultural Park
- The Cultural Park of Greek Calabria Workshop
- Exhibition of Greek Calabrian publications, arts & crafts, food &wine.
The Ecoturismo e Trekking [ Ecotourism and Trekking] section is associated with one of the themes dearest to the Paleariza Festival, that of recovering inland areas by means of a different approach to local development, which focuses on the low environmental impact and high sustainability provided by eco-tourism and farmhouse accommodation.