Khamoro Festival celebrates 10th anniversary in Prague
The Khamoro Festival is an international Romany Festival held in Prague each year. This year saw the 10th anniversary of the event, which features Romany performers and musicians from around the world, celebrating their rich cultural heritage with a packed programme of performances. One of the highlights is a vibrant procession of dancing and music which winds its colourful way from Mustek to Old Town Square. Jamie Brindley followed the procession yesterday.
The performers were waiting and waving flags as I arrived at Mustek on Prague's Wenceslas Square. Trumpets, violins and guitars were being given a final tune-up and some of the brightly-clothed Romany children were posing for photos. Right on 12 noon, the music kicked into full swing, and the procession was alive with dancing, colour and a lively, rowdy mix of instruments, singing and clapping.
"My name is Esma Redzepova Teodosijevska, from Macedonia."
And how come you are riding in the carriage today?
Esma is not only famous within the gypsy community, indeed she has released 20 albums, performed in 30 countries, and her music was even used in Sacha Baron Cohen's hit 2006 film, Borat!
As well as the queen in her carriage there was also the chance to speak to another couple of performers, this time a flamenco group who had come from the Spanish city of Sevilla:
How are you doing? How are you enjoying yourself?
"I'm loving it, man. Look at it. Look at it, it's fantastic."
So this is the tenth year for Khamoro, have you been here all ten times?
"No, this is our third time. It's the festivals' tenth anniversary, but it's our group’s third appearance here."
"Yes I'm Andrej from the Spanish Flamenco group Puerto Flamenco."
The high-profile nature of many of the acts has been given as one of the main reasons more younger people from the Romany community are turning out to watch and get involved, in comparison to previous years when numbers weren't so high. At any rate, the Khamoro Festival certainly seems to enchant and entertain, even if many of the people who saw the procession yesterday were just slightly surprised tourists fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.
Photo: Barbora Kmentová