On 7 August, 2015 Irina Bokova was in Koprivshtitsa to open the 11th edition of the National Folklore Festival.
Held every five years since 1965, the festival has established itself as a movement for the preservation and promotion of the Bulgarian traditional culture, known today as intangible cultural heritage. Featuring thousands of performing artists from across Bulgaria and other countries in a pastoral setting in the hills above the town, the Koprivshtitsa festival is the most significant Bulgarian music event for amateur performers.
In her opening remarks, Irina Bokova, who is the patron of the festival, highlighted the importance of preserving and upholding intangible cultural heritage, and sharing valuable historical assets and cultural diversity.
“The national folk festival is a rich feast of the Bulgarian spirit, customs and traditions. Folk art contains in itself the historical experience of past generations, it is rich in symbols and notions and this why we must protect it, take it forward and share it across the world.”
The Director-Gеneral recalled the importance of the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage as an instrument for dialogue and peace, as a tool for development and growth, and as a unique prism for understanding the world in order to shape it for the common good.
She commended the efforts and commitment of the Bulgarian people and Government to raise awareness about the rich Bulgarian cultural heritage and the need to promote it internationally.
Guests at the concert enjoyed the performance of almost 12,000 participants, including the female ensemble Bistritsa Grannies - archaic polyphony, dances and rituals from the Shoplouk region - relishing also the splendor of the Chiprovtsi carpets, displayed to the public on the street of crafts. Both elements, along with the fire-dancing ritual, called Nestinarstvo, are inscribed on UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
After the official opening, the Director-General toured all 7 stages to greet the singing and dancing ensembles and walked around the stands displaying a rich variety of local artifacts.