The Italian Almanac


Italian News / Music - August 21

Ferrara in northern Italy is bracing itself for an invasion of 800,000 visitors expected at the world's biggest fest for street musicians. Organizers say the 18th edition of the Ferrara Buskers Festival, which runs between August 22 and 28, is going to be the most colourful yet.

Over 750 different artists from 26 nations are coming to the northern city between Bologna and Venice for the event, as well as some 250 bands. They will put on more than 1,200 shows which, if performed one after the other, would be enough for a non-stop 111-day music marathon.

Busking is, by its very nature, not a business for the grand names of music industry. As a result, none of the artists on stage are international household names. Nevertheless, the quality and originality of the acts is superb. And the variety of music on offer is simply unbeatable. Visitors can, among other things, enjoy the rhythms of African drums, have a jig to the cheerful tunes of a dixie band, bop to some British pop, wander the narrow medieval streets guided by the sound of a Celtic harp, or feel the passion of an Argentine tango.

This year Brazilian music is being given a particularly prominent role. Samba bands from the Bahia region are coming, as well as a number of groups representing different elements of the country's musical heritage, like the Banda Virado No Moi de Coentro, which performs the traditional music of north-eastern Brazil.

There will even be virtuosos capable of making music out of objects like saws, spoons, washboards, cowbells and crystal glasses. Almost all the acts taking part have applied in advanced to have a slot during the festival.