As dusk gathered in Plovdiv on January 12, a chill breeze that made the temperature feel like minus five degrees Celsius was not deterring the streams of people heading to the opening ceremony of Bulgaria’s second city’s status as European Capital of Culture 2019.
At the centre of the celebrations is a 30m high tower, specially built for the occasion, which will be a platform for a show involving 1000 people – singers, dancers, musicians and volunteers.
Ahead of the show, the streets of central Plovdiv were bustling with people braving the cold to visit the touring exhibition of Berlin Wall fragments, displayed near the city’s landmark Roman Stadium, and to see the exhibitions linked to the opening – among them Smoke, an innovative and informative exposition of the history of the tobacco industry in Bulgaria – another by members of the Union of Bulgarian Artists, another at the City Gallery of stunning works by Kosyo Karamfilov, among others.
Hardly surprisingly, given the numbers of residents and visitors out and about, Plovdiv’s restaurants, coffee shops and bars were doing a rather nice trade for a date near mid-January.
Starting at 7pm, the opening ceremony will be shown live on Bulgarian National Television and via YouTube.
The Berlin Wall travelling exhibition, visiting Bulgaria’s Plovdiv, the first city where it is on display in the year marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Wall. Photos: Clive Leviev-Sawyer
A dusk performance in central Plovdiv by a wind orchestra from Italy’s Matera, the other city that holds the European Capital of Culture title in 2019. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer
Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer
The tower, illuminated during a rehearsal. Photo: podtepeto.com
(Main photo, an aerial view of the area of the tower that is the centrepiece of the January 12 opening ceremony: FlyPhil)