Festivals Events

Dress up, get down or chill out at Bucharest's theatre and music festivals. Annual events worth the wait;

Start/Finish: Piata Unirii/Piata Presei Librere Distance: 12km Duration: About 3 hours of the Communist Party building (8; p61) and the infamous balcony. This is where the revolution exploded in Bucharest, following the protests in Timi^oara which started the wave of unrest. A speech from Ceau§escu (on (he balcony) was the catalyst for the bloody and brutal events of the next hours. See bul-letmarks around the square. The statue of a broken man, a headless torso with six thrashing arms and a simple metal cross frame the square. Feel the suffering of the people by seeing the stone memorial, and gasp at the

Ml VOLUTION: WITNESSING HISTORY

i t'.iujescu stepped onto the balcony. He started talking about Timijoara, about stamping down the first wave of protest against him. He told us it would get better, 10,000 lei more lor studying, crazy lies. First people were murmuring, the voices from the crowd around me started saying 'Down with Ceaujescu'. Then the voices got louder, I heard myself shout. The sounds of bullets shattered the air. We heard shooting and I ran, I didn't know where to. They had killed people. Troops were loading bodies into trucks. I escaped but later heard that they'd barricaded people into Piata Universitatii. Students sat down in front of the tanks but the tanks just rolled over them. They were hemmed in like animals, with no escape and gunned down. One thousand people perished In that square that night. It was our darkest hour.

Cornelui, eyewitness on the night of 21 December 1989

On the outskirts of Bucharest the tanks rolled towards the city centre, the crunch of their tracks and the heavy labouring of out-dated machinery adding to the menace that had filled the grey skies for days. When the gun-turrets lay still, the soldiers who defected over to their people stood out of the tanks and smiled. People threw flowers at the tanks and gave crews meagre offerings of food. The elation at having overthrown decades of oppression was hitting home - it was a humbling experience. People walked around wearing Romanian flags draped over their heads, the centre circle which bore an imperial crest cut out. Over the next few days I struck out from the journalists' enclave of the Hotel Inter-Continental to see the Paris of the East. But fear took a long time to subside. The TV station - perhaps unprepared for the first moments of liberty - played Charlie Chaplin's film The Great Dictator, followed by a Lisa Stansfield concert. It only added to the surreal feel of Bucharest.

Journalist Danny Buckland, who covered the revolution in Romania for London's Daily Star.

Bucharest Carnival (late May/early June) Week-long carnival with street and folk dancers, street theatre and live bands performing in Bucharest's historic heart. Dreher Beer Festival (mid-June) Four-day beer festival with live bands and drinking contests in Herâstrâu Park. Open-flir Concerts (mid-June) Showcase for young classical musicians in Izvorani village (40km north of Bucharest). Fête de la Musique (21 June) French-music festival organised by the French Institute. Hora Festival (1 August) Three-day dance festival attracting traditional folk-dance troupes from all over the country; held in the Village Museum. Craftsman's Fair (15 August) Local craft fair hosted by the Village Museum, with guest craftspeople from all over Romania.

George Enescu Music Festival (4-24 September) Held every odd-numbered year, attracting musicians from all over the world.

National Theatre Festival (October) Week-long theatre festival held in the National Theatre. St Dumitru Day (last week of October) Two-day carnival celebrating Bucharest's patron saint, Dumitru.

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