Etho Fest tradition alive and well
Economic woes and a lack of sponsors failed to dampen what was admittedly a slightly curtailed summer festival season in West Ukraine, but the growing ethnotradition of recent years remains alive and well. Ukraine’s western regions have long been the guarantors of the country’s national consciousness, keeping local cultures and traditions alive while much of the country experienced two centuries of Russian and Soviet rule, and in the past 18 years since independence the region has become a centre for an ethno-fest culture that has reawakened connections with a mythical folklore past for a whole new generation of Ukrainians. These unique gatherings have a musical aspect but remain far more than simple rock festivals, with theatrical, literary, artistic and craftwork elements often woven into the fabric of the event. Highlights of this year’s festival programme included ‘Pidkamin’, which takes place against the iconic background of a huge displaced rock on a hilltop, and the intellectually stimulating Svirzh festival. Meanwhile, stimulants of a different kind appeared to be enjoying wide currency at Shypot, Ukraine’s longest-running and most chilled out hippy gathering.