Colours of Ostrava: Day 1

The City of Steel Awakens

Once the driving economic force of Moravia, where coal was mined and pig iron produced, the Vitkovice Steel Works today would be unrecognizable to its former owner, Viennese banker Salomon Mayer Rothschild. Transformed into a playground of audio, visual, retail, and gastronomical treats, day 1 of Colours of Ostrava doesn’t disappoint. The impressive surroundings of former blast furnaces, mines and ironworks structures provides a unique backdrop, adding character to the city’s musical event of the year while paying homage to the city’s industrial heritage.

Held for the second year in a row at Dolni oblast Vitkovice, the festival once more delivers an eclectic line-up of performances, including musicians hailing from 30 countries, as well as a new stage, Drive, presenting the latest happenings in alternative country, bluegrass, folk, blues and rockabilly from around the world. Although only the first day, it is evident from the crowds cueing on lines which barely move that there is much anticipation of what awaits beyond the entrance. The atmosphere is vibrant, pulsing with energy and enthusiasm. Compared to last year, there is a marked increase in the amount of green space throughout the sprawling field of rock and gravel surfaces, no easy feat for a former steelworks site.

A cacophony of sounds and scents greet the senses at every turn. Classic czech plates such as klobasa and bramboraky are readily available, alongside sushi and vegetarian dishes. And for those looking for a different kind of entertainment, vendors can be found in nearly every part of the festival grounds selling a variety of goods from music CDs, to cannabis ointments and smoking paraphernalia, to  accessories and clothing. Everything put together only reinforces the feeling that the whole city has come together for one big party. But perhaps the most favorable aspect is the expansiveness and space available, allowing one to truly enjoy being amongst thousands of other party-goers without the sense of claustrophobia.

Large projection screens flanking stages permit festival goers to view concerts from virtually any angle and location. Even with 8 stages spread throughout the location, the programming and sheer size of the festival grounds ensure minimal sound interference. The music line-up ranged from unique instrumental music from the south of Albania by Fanfara Tirana Meets Transglobal Underground to Irie Révoltés, a German musical group from Heidelberg rhyming and rapping in French to a ska-punk-reggae beat.

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In summary, day 1 held a rosy promise of more to come!

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