Dance! says Montelago, as Italy’s largest Celtic festival celebrates its 16th year in the heart of Apennine splendour
For organizers Maurizio Serafini and Luciano Monceri – who will open Friday night’s main stage performances with their own characteristic flair – the festival’s message stems from a sense of disenchantment with a world characterized by growing discord, anger, xenophobia, pollution, and fake news, along with the unmet commitments, antipathy, and divisiveness of the world’s national and business leaders. While Montelago has already established itself as a symbol of escape from the quotidian grind, this year there is greater focus on a ‘conscious lightness’: “We need a smile. A community of understanding and sharing. So we have a simple yet strong message: we want to see more harmony, beauty, closeness, love. We want to see everyone dancing, as a free and creative expression of body and mind, united – not divided – in bare feet on the green grass of an alpine meadow without fences, energized by the passionate jigs of violins and bagpipes.”
In support of this spirit and intent, the festival line-up features a wide variety of styles and genres. Selections from the programme include explosive Breton band Digresk; Andalusia's Rarefolk with their singular brand of freestyle folk; veteran Canadian Celtic punk band, The Mahones; sought-after Irish traditional group, FullSet; Riserva Moac & Bukurosh Balkan Orkestra, symbolic group of Montelago's Epicentro initiative in support of the communities affected by Marche's 2016 earthquake; and local favourite Mortimer McGrave, who will enliven their performance with an entourge of circus performers.
Launched in 2003, the festival takes place on the Colfiorito plains among the Apennine mountains on the border of the Italian regions of Marche and Umbria. Over the years it has developed into Italy’s largest Celtic festival, and has attracted the attention of Italy’s Ministry of Youth and the BBC thanks to its unique and diverse mix of high-quality cultural and social events, including:
- Celtic wedding ceremonies for couples wishing to bind their relationship through sacred Druidic rites,
- Celtic games such as tug o’ war and tossing the caber,
- traditional Celtic craft, music and dance workshops,
- 7-a-side rugby tournament sanctioned by the Italian Rugby Federation,
- fantasy literature presentations in the Tolkien Tent,
- a Celtic village and Celtic battle reenactments, and
- a Celtic market with 70 stalls from all over Italy and Europe offering crafts, clothing, and curiosities.
Services include free parking, food and beverage stands featuring local and specialized products – including an award-winning Montelago craft beer and Montelago mead – an open-air market with fresh meat and vegetables, segregated camping areas for families and for bikers, cooling-off points, free wifi, phone charging stations, shuttle buses, breathalyzer testing, and a 24-hour field hospital.
Aside from events and activities, the soul of the festival is embodied in the Montelago community – Il Popolo di Montelago – which is both animated and harmonious, and it’s testament to this spirit of camaraderie that in 15 years there’s never been a single bad incident. “For us, this is where the festival succeeds – people come simply to enjoy themselves in an atmosphere of peace and togetherness, surrounded by the beauty of the Apennines. Without the Montelago community, this festival would not exist, pure and simple, and it’s for these people that we’ll keep pushing forward, making sure that they’re getting the best that we can muster.”
The festival is organized by Arte Nomade (www.artenomade.com).
An initiative of Arte Nomade, the Montelago Celtic Festival has for 15 years attracted lovers of Celtic music and culture on the first weekend of August to the plains of Colfiorito amid central Italy's Apennine mountains on the border of Umbria and Marche.
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