Silk Road festival

Cultural Events, International Festivals0 comments

Last month the New York Times published a list of recommended tourist sites for 2010. Damascus came in seventh and the writer was introducing the Syrian capital as the “new Marrakesh,”  where ancient buildings are turning into boutique hotels.   This is not only because of political rapprochement between Washington and Damascus, but, I consider it is the great work that Ministry of Tourism in general and Damascus Tourism Directorate’s in particular have done for past few years.  I do know Mr. Faisal Najati who is managing Damascus Tourism Directorate affairs, and he is a respected and trustful man dedicated to his work. Various events, conferences, concert program, managed or sponsored by the Tourism Ministry lead to this successful outcome. One of the lasting and most interesting of them all I find Silk Road festival. Silk Road festival, which is managed and organized by Ministry of Tourism of Syrian Arab Republic, is one of those really interesting projects,with which I have been cooperating since beginning of my career. Our cooperation goes back to the bases. By then, festival was as young, as we were all. In the first year, our only participating group was from Russian city Chita, which is situated near Baikal lake. And I remember they had to travel 6 days on train to arrive to Moscow where they took their flight to Syria! The group called Zabaikalie, I remember even Larisa, their director, who was a beautiful , energetic and admirable person. Since then, as the work grew, Irear met my groups that travel here and there with our company assistance, but this particular group, I couldn’t forget in the carousel of other groups and years. During their performance that was incredibly packed, nobody dared to sit or stay sitting, people watch them standing and non-stop applause was exploding in the air. Since then large number of groups participated in this festival thanks to our office in Damascus that looks after the organization process. Festival usually held on the International day of Tourism, which comes to end of September, when the weather in Syria is also beautiful, no rains, still warm, so is perfect timing to held so large scale event. Since 2 years, however, it is held from 10th of October till 15th, due to it’s original dates timing with fasting month of Ramadan in September. The festival has large opening ceremony with more then 100 dancers, musicians from around the world on the stage. The Ministry chooses a theme, that should be definitely related to Silk Road themes, then a company or a production manager would implement that on the ground, using both Syrian and internationally renowned foreign groups, whose selection limited to the countries that are situated on the shores of ancient Silk Road, in which Syria had and has central and connecting role. Beside the concert program, there are other cultural activities, exhibitions, competitions, food exhibitions. The good thing of it is that all these activities are taking place not only in the capital, but in 4 cities at once . The concerts and all the other activities continue in all the cities and the groups are moving to perform on different stages as well, so the opportunity to see the program is big  for at least four cities during the festival. As it is also high season for Syrian travel industry, many foreigners join locals in these concerts. Chosen cities are also different, every year, the committee chooses 4 cities that will be in the spotlight of the events and open to the world new beauties of past centuries and the attractive nowadays of various Syrian regions. Ministry also invites large number of foreign press representatives, film crews, journalists to cover the events. We are already working on selection of  groups for 2010 edition. I hope to be able to host Hinoki – ya Japanese band, with whom we are in negotiations. If you are planning to be somewhere in the region, do not miss opportunity to show up in Syria for Silk Road festival, it will make your visit to Syria festive.