Against a backdrop of sweet serenades, as many as 140,000 glasses of domestic beer and significant amounts of traditional food were consumed over four consecutive nights during Korça’s Feast of Beer, which is thought to be the biggest public celebration in Albania.
The Feast of Beer was organised by "Birra Korça" (Korça Beer), the first Albanian beer, which has been sold since 1930 and is brewed on the basis of German recipes, and the municipality of this town in the southeast of the country. Music, performed by many local and foreign bands, including two English bands, “Tankus the henge” and “Martin Harley”, added to the party atmosphere.
“If we talk of a beer-tradition link, there is one aspect which really stands out, that is the many original Korça serenades sung during this celebration. In addition, the participants had a chance to taste traditional products such as locally cooked meat balls, sausages and desserts,” Sofjola Kotelli, marketing director at the Korça Municipality told Southeast Europe: People and Culture.
The famous Korça serenades date back to the 30s when this city was an open port for foreign cultures and civilisations and its people were among the first Albanians to emigrate to Australia.
“In the 30s, our city achieved economic progress. It was the time when Korça beer was first produced and the local carnivals and the masked ball were organised. Eighty years later, we still use such traditional festivals as a source for developing our city economically,” Kotelli said.
This time, the event was held with the participation of a large number of locals and foreign visitors who tasted the cold beer and the traditional products of the city, including meat balls known as “kërnacka.”
This celebration is undoubtedly the biggest in Albania. It seals the unique tourist profile of Korça as the city of feasts and shows much of its particular culture,” Korça mayor, Niko Peleshi declared.
Throughout the past years, he maintained, the dimensions of the feast of beer have grown in all its components, meaning a higher number of beer manufacturing and catering companies participating, a larger presence of foreign visitors coming to Korça just to share this celebration or the participation of more Albanian and foreign singers.
Korça, often considered Albania’s cradle of culture (the first Albanian school was opened here as well as the French Lyceum in 1917), stands out now as the leading city of traditional celebrations in Albania. Unlike other cities in the country, Korça follows a calendar of events, thus making the cultural life of this city of 86.000 inhabitants constantly vivid.
Surrounded by a festive atmosphere throughout the year, this city hosts a series of national and international cultural events including The Week of Culture, The Korça Carnivals, The Pie Feast, The Korça Nights of Poetry, The Colony of Sculptors, the colony of painters “Vangjush Mio,” The End-of-Year Fair, the international photography competition “Sotir” and others.
The beer festival is considered as the conclusion of the tourist season. It takes place in the most beautiful part of the city – the “Rinia” Park. The slogan of the event, “There is always time for a beer,” was stamped on T-shirts, displays, souvenirs, billboards and banners.