BEGINNING August, Slovakia will experience a host of events inspired by, and focused on minority cultures, especially the Roma. The biggest of these is the International Gypsy Fest (IGF) that is comprised of a number of events.

“Gypsy Fest is no longer an event only for the Roma; on the contrary, the majority visits it, too,” head of the festival Jozef Šivák said, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

The opening event for public comes on August 5 at 20:00 in the Klarisky concert hall on Klariská street, and it is a re-enactment of a Roma and non-Roma wedding. “As the festival wants to connect Roma with non-Roma, we decided to make a mixed wedding,” Šivák informed The Slovak Spectator. “The bride will be a Roma and the bridegroom a non-Roma. It will be a theatre performance full of Roma traditions, habits, music and dance.” The wedding re-enactment will feature professional actors like Štefan Kožka, Zuzana Dančiaková, Natália Baloghová, Brigita Szelidová and others.

Apart from showing traditions, the IGF strives to also present some of the country’s most successful Roma as role models. After good responses to last year’s fashion show of designs by Pavol Berky, this time round Monika Vontszemuová got the chance to prove her talent. “Famous celebrities have the designs of Vontszemuová in their wardrobes,” Šivák explained. “But the public doesn’t know her well, and thus we decided to organise an impressive fashion show for her that will be supported by famous personalities.” The show is on August 7 at 20:00, also in Klarisky in downtown Bratislava, and it will be attended by hosts Adela Banášová and Katka Brychtová, musician Silvia Šarkoeziová, and actresses Bibiana Ondrejková and Zuzana Hassová. Vontszemuová will present four of her collections, including jewels made from 24-carat gold.

The highlight of the festival is a parade through streets of Slovak capital. On August 8 at 14:00, it will start near Slovenská Sporiteľňa on the Obchodná Street and lead through downtown Bratislava. It should feature hundreds of artists, performers and passer-bys and will be led by the 16-member Romanian band The Zuralia Orchestra.

On the same day at 20:00 in the Main Square, The Zuralia Orchestra together with legendary Slovenian band Imer Traja Brizani, founded by jazz musician Imer Brizani, will play for Bratislava inhabitants and visitors alike.

A usual highlight of the festival is the gala-concert, this time on August 9 at 20:00, bringing local and foreign musicians: Vierka Berkyová (SK), Ján Bendig (CZ), The Zuralia Orchestra, Gitano Family (FR/ESR), Imer Traja Brizani (SLO), Gitana (SK) and Karavan Familia (HU) will all take part.

Admission to all events is free.

Part of the International Gypsy Fest is also a discussion. This year’s will focus on the Roma Holocaust. While not so widely acknowledged or debated, during the World War II an estimated 250,000-500,000 Roma perished at the hands of the Nazis. The debate is meant for the Roma youth to learn more profoundly about their past.

The IGF has been organised since 2008 and in the past years, it has drawn artists from Slovakia, India, Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, Spain, Macedonia, Serbia, Germany, Romania, Austria, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.