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Festival Asia 2011
Pe'Z—the Japanese jazz instrumental band perform at this year's Festival Asia
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Festival Asia 2011
The poster for this year's Festival Asia, featuring 'Naadam' a work by Badamjavin Chogsom (1972) from the National Gallery of Modern Art of Mongolia
If Asia is high on your list of places to visit but way beyond your budget, head to the Asia Festival, returning this month for its 10th anniversary edition, instead.
Formed in 2001, Casa Asia (the cultural centre organising the festival) aims to promote Asian-Spanish relations and increase awareness here, through regular seminars, workshops, screenings and exhibitions, showing the best of modern Asia alongside its ancient traditions; this colourful, yearly festival is an integral part of that mission.
For 10 days, Barcelona is overtaken by the sights, sounds and smells of Asia, just as the autumn celebrations begin in many parts of the continent. This year, music and martial arts are the order of the day, as the focus falls on Central Asia and the rich cultures of the many nations nestled in that region.
A unique programme of performances is scheduled for festival-goers, including shadow theatre by master puppeteer Nahuel Bon, music from alumni of the Kazakhstan National Music School and traditional Mongolian fighting. And who could resist the chance to see Pakistan’s most famous pop princess take to the stage? Performances take place at various sites around the city, including the MACBA, Biblioteca de Catalunya and Ateneu Barcelonès.
The festival draws to a dramatic close with the aptly named ‘Day in Asia’, when the Plaça dels Àngels and Plaça de Joan Coromines are transformed into a Mongolian nomad’s camp, complete with traditional yurts. Inside the tents, there’ll be storytelling, arts and crafts, dance performances and a games corner, where kids can learn the popular games of Kyrgyzstan and Taiwan. Prominent Asian-Catalan communities will also be present, giving craft workshops and short demonstrations throughout the day.
The Festival Asia is unlike any other festival you’ll go to this year, from the diverse line-up to the free entry. But fun aside, the festival is also a great way to learn more about Asian cultures, old and new. Get there early, soak up the atmosphere and forget where you are for a while. It might not be the real deal, but it’s a pretty good substitute.
X Festival Asia. September 16th to 25th, 2011. www.casaasia.es