It’s halftime, culturally, in Veszprém-Balaton

The opportunity to be a European Capital of Culture for a year only comes around every 14 years or so, because there are 27 countries in the European Union and usually just two are chosen each time. And then there may be two or three or four places within a country competing for the honour. Pécs was Hungary’s first representative in 2010, after the country joined the EU in 2004, and now Veszprém-Balaton is the second. where, with half 2023 gone, it’s still full steam ahead to make the most of what’s left.
19. June 2023 7:34

Indeed, between June 14 and 18, the Bakony-Balaton region invited visitors to a five-day festival with concerts, sports days, exhibitions, picnics and more to celebrate reaching this halfway point and prepare for the remaining six months of the title with a varied programme. It is part of a tradition that has developed among European Capitals of Culture to reflect on the first six months of the year after the opening ceremony and prepare for the climactic time to come after the “halftime” celebration in mid-year.

Mayor of Veszprém Gyula Porga has reflected on the situation, saying: „ We have barely begun to comprehend that we are the European Capital of Culture 2023 with the Bakony and Balaton region, we have barely regained our senses after the magical opening in January, we can’t stop enjoying programmes one better than the other, and now we are already halfway through the season.”

But we are not disheartened, he added. The five-day festival of exciting events in several parts of the city had been dubbed Felező (Halftime), and would bring lots of music, movement and even a rollerskate discotheque to Veszprém. „Let’s celebrate together,” Mayor Porga said.

More than 3000 programmes are planned for the whole year, in line with Veszprém’s title as “City of Music” bestowed by UNESCO, and including unique classical and popular music events with a wide range of Hungarian and European performers.

Another significant pillar of the year is visual arts, with the primary goal being to position the Veszprém-Balaton region in the creative and cultural industries, worthy of its natural attributes and appealing to the European artistic community.

Thus, exhibitions featuring works by local and international artists inspired by the exceptional natural qualities of Lake Balaton and its surrounding region are being presented every month throughout 2023.

Still to come are the artistic duo Thomas Mailaender and Erik Kessels from the Netherlands on June 22, and it is in their presence that the Europe Archive exhibition at House of Arts Veszprém will be opened. Last year, the duo spent two weeks with the region as part of the Artists in Residency European Capital of Culture programme, and now their fans can see the results of the inspiration they received during their stay.

At an exclusive opening event on June 23, visitors will have the first opportunity to view the exhibition of József Egry, the painter of Lake Balaton, curated to commemorate the 140th anniversary of his birth. The exhibition showcases his splendid paintings, depicting his journey from Lake Balaton to Sicily.

Also scheduled are VeszprémFest 2023 with Rosé, Riesling and Jazz Days both from July 12-16, Veszprém Street Music Festival from July 19-2, Auer Festival from August 1-6, Kőfeszt from August 3-6, INOTA Festival from August 31-September 3, BALKAN: MOST Festival from September 7-9, Balaton Wine and Gourmet from September 21–24 and Jazz Festival from November 16-19.

On June 24, as part of the traditional Night of Museums event series, people of all ages can will set out to spend a romantic summer night visiting the institutions and exploring new exhibitions. These will involve the Agóra Veszprém Cultural Centre, the Blessed Gizella Archdiocese Collection, Eötvös Károly County Library,  Digitalis Knowledge Centre, Fenyves Mill, Laczkó Dezső Museum, Heroes Gate, MNM Villa Romana Baláca, House of Arts, Pekedli Grocery Store, Hungarian-Finish Association and Dózsa György German Nationality Language Teaching Primary School.

Special attention is being paid to an Artists in Residency idea that spans several programmes and brings artists, invited or selected by competition, to the settlements of the region to show how they see the place through their works. British and French artists Dafna Talmor and Noémie Goudal are two talented participants in the scheme, and their exhibition opens on June 29. Their works will be on display in Dubniczay Palace, the Granary and in the Veszprém Castle area until August 27, offering the opportunity to see the way they see Balaton and its region.

A novel way of discovering Veszprém and its history has been made available. The Veszprém County Archives of the National Archives of Hungary launched Veszprém Map Wanderer on June 15, Hungarian Archives Day. Based on the street and buildings structure of the historical core of the city of Veszprém between 1850 and 1950, the National Archives of Hungary has created this local history database that displays the historical data of streets, houses and their inhabitants on digitalised, interactive, multi-layered historical maps.

The database also includes digital images of selected archival sources linked to houses and plots. The application allows users to roam in space and time through Veszprém’s past, tracing the transformation of the town temporally and spatially from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century.

More history can be discovered through the original Tihany Foundation Charter, written in 1055, which has returned to the place where it was drawn up. This first written relic of the Hungarian language offers a glimpse into the lives of the country’s 11th-century ancestors, being on display at the jewel of Lake Balaton, the Benedictine Abbey of Tihany. The exhibition is part of the itinerary of the Tihany Benedictine Abbey Museum and runs until August 31. Tours start from the visitor centre next to the church.

Hungarian popular music bands are performing five times at iconic nature sites and geological gems of the Veszprém-Balaton region. The overall aim of the concert series is to expand the cultural offer and spaces of the region, showcasing the natural treasures of the land with versatile musical performers, in a sustainable way with minimal environmental impact, to smaller audiences.

These guarantee an intimate atmosphere, with audiences from 50 to 120 people, depending on the size of the venue. Protecting nature’s resources is a key element of the programme, which is why the concerts are organised as “zero waste” events. All the venues are located along nature trails or hiking paths, giving participants the opportunity to discover unique natural and geological wonders.

During the events, participants can try out different instruments and get closer to each other through jamming, thus enhancing the power of community experience. All events are free of charge, subject to individual registration, and participants can support the initiative with an on-the-spot contribution.

These concerts remain – 1) Concert at the Lake, konkoi live-set, warm-up: Appon 19.30 / 29th July, Venue: Bányató (Quarry Lake), Hegyesd. 2) Concert Among the Trees, Follow The Violin – Izsák Farkas 19.30 / 26th August, Venue: Cistertian Arboretum, Zirc. 3) Concert in the Crater, Balázs Zságer solo live act 19.00 / 23rd September, Venue: Haláp Hill, Zalahaláp The official site of the event: termeszetre.hangolva2023

Children’s and family programmes,  water theatre, walks and much more are still to come.  See

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