The Italian Almanac
Italian News - June 22
Italy is preparing to toast its ancient Celtic heritage at the 2006 edition of a festival that has rapidly become one of Europe's most important events of its kind. The 10th edition of Celtica features a packed schedule of art, music, dance and other cultural events and pageants at towns throughout the Val d'Aosta region. The show has been split into two parts this year - a series of ritual ceremonies and concerts were staged for the summer solstice, on June 21, while the main festival programme runs July 5-9.
Performers and Celtic culture enthusiasts are coming from France, Spain, Ireland, Poland, Great Britain and all over Italy to take part. Among the big attractions are Breton band Bagad de Vannes, Irish sister fiddle-and-flute duo, Cora and Breda Smyth, the Irish Air Corps Pipe Band and Wales' Mabon ensemble. As usual, the festival's heart is at the beautiful, ancient Peuterey forest, 1,500 metres above sea level and near the Courmayeur ski resort.
Conferences by noted archaeologists, historians and scholars of Celtic culture will be plentiful. Visitors will be able to find out about the development of Celtic languages, learn about the spirituality and natural-healing techniques of the ancient Celts and trace the historical origins of Celtic legends and stories.
There will be exhibitions of Celtic coins, metalwork, weapons, clothes, symbols and art. Artists from all over Europe will hold workshops to teach people how to do Celtic embroidery, weave traditional baskets and make various craft objects. Historical re-enactment groups will show visitors Celtic archery, axe throwing and flint fire-making.
Since its debut in 1997, when 2,500 people came along, the festival has seen attendances grow exponentially. Over 35,000 visitors came last year. The event's popularity shows northern Italians are increasingly interested in learning about their Celtic roots.