Seher il-Punent-08 festival of arts, culture, history and music
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A gentle breeze blows through Gharb’s village square, rustling around the old stone cross, playing lightly with the statues on the Folklore Museum and sighing gently around the great stone church with its silent bells. Life flows peacefully here, at the westernmost end of Gozo, where the very air seems to lighten and change as the centre is left behind and the road opens up into rolling countryside.
It is elusive, this sense of peace, this sense of connection with tradition, but it is there, sure enough – in the folklore museum which peacefully overlooks the square, in the museums of Frenc ta’ l-Gharb and Karmni Grima, and in the chapels spread around the surrounding countryside, where the wind whispers its legends and stories. It reaches out to the Ta’ Dbiegi Crafts Village, the main crafts centre on the island, and to Ta’ Pinu, the Basilica dedicated to Our Lady, which stands alone, an elegant and solid monument to the beautiful story behind it. And it even reaches beyond, to Wied il-Mielah, where a natural “window” is carved in the coastal rock.
Perhaps it is this that has inspired an annual festival which aims to bring the west’s fascination to its visitors. Held for the first time last year, the event – Seher il-Punent – is back and will be held on the 28th-30th of March, the eve of a public holiday. Past and present will meet at the peaceful main square and its surrounding areas, which are set to resound with the music and events of a festival of arts, crafts, history and heritage.
“The festival aims to keep Gharb’s religious, cultural and traditional elements alive,” says Mayor David Apap, “as well as fostering interest in Gharb.” Following in the wake of the success of last year’s event, the festival aims to expose the main characteristics of the village of Gharb, unique in its style and very popular among Maltese and tourists, he explains.
Last year in fact, the event – the first of its kind to be organized in Gozo – managed to create something new, exposing the magic and beauty of the western part of Gozo, says Mr Apap. This event was mainly sponsored by the Gozo Incentives Scheme under the Good Causes Fund.
“The uniqueness of this festival lies in the fact that people who still carry on the skills of traditional crafts – such as fishermen, cobblers, lacemakers and the like – bring the old days back to life with demonstrations set in the lifestyle of those days,” says Mr Apap. “Tradition is still very much alive in Gharb,” he says. “The village is home to skilled people and boasts resources for several traditional crafts.”
Visitors to Seher il-Punent can tour various venues, which are transformed into a showcase of the arts and crafts still alive in Gharb. The programme also includes re-enactments of village life in the past.
The three-day programme includes events which start in the morning until late in the evening. In the evening, the main square is surrounded by tables and chairs with stalls serving traditional food.
Highlights on 28 March include country music performer Marisa D’Amato as well as a live concert with the participation of The Spiteri Lucas Band, J Anvil, Ludvig Galea, Nadine Axisa and the popular comedian Augusto Cardinali.
On 29 March performers will include popular comedian Joe Demicoli, Freddie Portelli who will perform a 90-minute solo concert of sixties songs while the show will be compered by the duo folk singers Greenfields.
On the final night, all the Song for Europe finalists, including Gozitan winner Morena, will perform on stage while the show will be compered by the popular comedians Joe (id-Dulli) and Veronica Farrugia. A live concert will be held by the well know brass ensemble band – ‘THE BIG BAND BROTHERS’ which is made of talented musicians playing brass and percussion instruments. Its reparatory includes original music, classic, latin, jazz and pop music.
On all three nights, the show will include band marches by Ghaqda Muzikali Vizitazzjoni as well as various dance performances, re-enactors in noble and Venetian costumes as well as the participation of Gozitan rock bands.
Meanwhile, throughout the three festival days, visitors can participate in cultural walking tours which aim to showcase the various elements which give Gharb its unique character. An art exhibition will also be held as well as re-enactments of traditional activities such as Il-Qiegha. Visitors can also visit a local wine cellar for wine-tasting sessions. A traditional arts and crafts exhibition will also be organised while the various places of interest – including the museums and Ta Dbiegi Crafts Village – will stay open till late. An outside restaurant at Pjazza Zjara tal-Madonna will also serve lunch and dinner.
Pre-booking is necessary for the cultural walking tours; please call on 2156 0556/9925 0198 or email: email@example.com. The art exhibition is open throughout the festival between 10.00 – 14.00 and 19.00 – 23.00.