HISTeRIA Festival

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Festival HISTeRIA

Festival dates17.7.2018 - 28.7.2018

The festival has been succeeded by the Floating Castle Festival.

Archival article

Though formally established and first held in 2011, HISTeRIA Festival actually dates back to 2003, when the musician, puppeteer, activist, actor, and director Matija Solce started organising the Etno Histria workshops. They were set up as international meetings of musicians and were held on the outskirts of the Istrian (hence Histria, an old name for Istria) village Gračišče. With time, the concept has grown, the workshop being also held in other countries, and it has gradually involved more and more people.

Thus was born the HISTeRIA Festival, which ambitiously incorporated a whole range of art forms under its wing and became a "folk-puppet-music-theatre site-specific event". It did retain its character of a meeting of artists, but has also opened up to other people, inviting the general public as well as the local community. In 2014 the festival's concept seamlessly reemerged in the vast park of the Snežnik Castle as the Floating Castle Festival.

However, Etno Histeria now persists as an international workshop.


The one central idea behind the festival is of incorporating. It tries to involve people from the local village by setting up performances and workshops in the village itself; it tries to be friendly to children, to the elderly, and to the disabled; it is international and multilingual; it encourages visitors to be involved in the realisation of the festival; and it hosts numerous types of artists and other creative spirits, who bring a variety of art forms and methods and who throughout the whole day and night allow for both mindless as well as thoughtful and reflective entertainment.

An important part of the festival is the make and the design of the atmosphere. It takes place before the official festival starts and is yet still a part of it, as the artists and volunteers gather for a conceptually-minded set-up of the site. Land-art, the usage of in situ materials, and also the already existing "spots", environment-friendly practices and a general feel-good aesthetics are the principles by which the location is manipulated and transformed into the festival grounds.


One of the underlying modes of production which allows for all of this to happen is volunteering. Not only do the organisers and their team of helpers work for free, so do the artists and others involved in the festival, and only some of the mentors for specific projects get paid for their travel expenses. This not only enables the festival to happen and draws the people that really want to be there for the social and cultural experience, it also makes it possible to invest the profits into expanding and enriching the next year's edition.

Last but not least is the principle of sustainability. All the waste produced is recycled, the festival goes for minimal energy consumption and the participants are encouraged not to litter the grounds, not even with cigarette stubs.



The vast programme involves different performances, concerts, puppet shows, circus acts, street theatre, workshops for adults and children, poetry readings, exhibitions, a forest funfair and a labyrinth, film projections, and more. The 2013 edition, for example, involved more than 700 artists and 150 volunteers from 25 countries.

The festival also lives before and after the festival, and in the week before it happened, some of the artists were already warming up and performing in various cities and towns of Slovenia. The Etno HISTeRIA Orchestra even had a protest in front of the Centre for Foreigners just before the 2013 edition, demanding basic human rights for detained individuals and questioning existing immigration policies. In 2014, the festival organisers took a temporary break and the next partial appearance of the festival came in the form of a so called couch festival.

Etno Histeria Sub-cultural Couch Festival

This couch festival is a rather unique guerilla enterprise, first organised in Ljubljana in February 2016. Going on at multiple locations, mostly various living rooms in Ljubljana, the festival is a de-centralised and self-organised endeavour that expands the model of a house concert. One could also see it as an application of some HISTeRIA Festival concepts in an urban setting. The 2016 edition featured about a dozen private locations and was partly also held at the Celica Hostel, the Vodnik Homestead and the Sanje Bookshop.

Some of the musicians involved were Daniell Wall and the Old Salt band (US, FR, AT, UK), Maarja Nuut (EE), Ida & the other Bears (SE, SI) and Claudia Schwab and Lisa Horzer (AT).

See also