VeloFest is a festival dedicated to the promotion of the use of the bicycle. Starting on 7th April 2010, a number of towns and villages in Macedonia will host this unique event for 24 days. The festivities will celebrate the bicycle as part of a way of living, a means of transport, of recreation, and even inspiration for works of art or just adventure and fun.
"Many people agree that cycling is among the best things that they discovered in their life. The positive energy that is generated whilst cycling, the smile that shines on your face, that moment of bliss - it is an inspiration for all kinds of creative activities", Bojan Rantaša, VeloFest's coordinator, told Southeast Europe: People and Culture.
VeloFest participants will select the most beautiful and the oldest bicycle in the country. The organisers have already called for the submission of old photographs and films of bicycles as well as art and design on the subject. There will be an exhibition of photographs from the 20th century that depict the history and tradition of the use of bicycles in the country.
"We have a photograph dating as far as 1907", says Rantaša and adds that there's also an exhibition of photographs planned that will depict the fashion and style of bicycles in the Netherlands. Several German films on cycling will be screened on the festival: "Sportsman Lötzsch" from S. Hilpert & S. Prechtel, a film on the life of the cyclist Lötzsch and the film "Fixed City" by K. Ansand and M. Gilluck, a movie on the current cycling trends in Berlin.
One local film will also be screened. "It's a historic documentary film from 1979 on the efforts that the cyclists undertake. ‘When the water silently noises’ from Kole Angelovski is a film that has never been screened publicly", explains Rantaša.
Apart from Skopje, a number of other towns and villages will take part in VeloFest: Berovo, Vinica, Bosilovo, Kočani, Strumica, Prilep are just a few of them. Rantaša says that the aim is to promote cycling all over the country and thus to gain a stronger commitment from the local communities in facilitating the use of bicycles.
Rantaša says that the idea that drives VeloFest is the promotion of cycling as a way of living thus contributing to the preservation of the environment. VeloFest will also organise a Bicycle Forum with a number of international speakers focused on the environmental side of cycling. "We'll have local NGOs speaking about their projects, institutions presenting national and local policies and Michael Cramer, a Member of the European Parliament and Bernhard Ensink from the European Cyclist’s Federation to speak on cycling policies in Europe", said Rantaša.
In 2011, VeloFest will probably focus on mountain cycling.
** The European Commission does not accept or recognise in whatever form or content a denomination other than “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”. All references, direct or indirect, to this country used in this article are those of its author.