“There’s more to Hungarians than paprika and more to Transylvania than Dracula,” says Ottilia Ördög, organiser of the UK’s first Transylvanian Hungarian festival of arts and culture.
A Transylvanian herself, Ottilia felt it was time she shared her culture’s little known music, dance, cuisine and arts and crafts with her home for the last 26 years, Manchester; an adoptive city that, for its size, has been called the most culturally diverse in the world.
According to Professor Yaron Matras of the University of Manchester, the city is a league table topper, with up to 200 languages spoken by a population of just half a million.
Music, dance and food will be at the heart of Góbéfest, as they are at the heart of Transylvanian culture. A Góbé is a friendly word for a ‘crafty Székely’ a group of ethnic Hungarians living in Transylvania, which is currently considered part of Romania.
Acts from across the Hungarian diaspora will perform for free in the Manchester’s central Albert Square (13/14 May), which will also play host to the city’s first Hungarian market. A launch event, featuring the best Hungarian dance acts will take place at the Dancehouse theatre on the preceding Friday.
Musicians travelling to Manchester from Transylvania cover many styles, from folk right through to classical, jazz, rock and world music. They include hurdy gurdy maestro and renaissance music expert Robert Mandel , the Mátyás Király Zither Ensemble , who are all still at school, Gorillaz-esque pop trio Saverne, Transylmania, an eight piece folk rock band who have played together for 15 years and Folktone band, accomplished players of the ütőgardon, a folk instrument similar to a cello and almost unique to Transylvania.
Traditional folk dance troupes include H-Unique Dance, Szeredás Dance Group London and The Ti-Ti-Ta Hungarian Folkdance Group.
The Albert Square stage will be surrounded by market stalls, selling Hungarian food, drink, arts and crafts. Visitors can sample customary delicacies such as gulyás (a Hungarian stew also known as goulash), lángos (fried dough served with various toppings such as grated cheese, crème frèche and garlic) and kürtőskalács (a sweet doughy treat cooked over a spit).
A range of little known drinks will be sold, including Csiki, a craft beer brewed in Transylvania since 2014 to an ancient recipe, the fruit brandy palinka and the sweet Tokaji wine, whose six grape varieties are traditionally grown a thousand feet above sea level, near the Carpathian mountains.
Festival organiser Ottilia Ördög has been involved with the Manchester music scene for the last 20 years, since attending university in the city. She worked closely with the late Tony Wilson on In The City conference and has been an active member of urban radio station Unity Radio for over a decade. When she was 12, Ottilia’s family arrived in nearby Buxton, Derbyshire, from Transylvania with refugee status.
Ottilia said: “I think it’s very important to celebrate diversity and learn about other cultures. Manchester, being the third most multicultural city in the world, gives us the perfect location to do just that.
“Over the years, hundreds of people have asked me about Transylvania, where I grew up before moving to England, 26 years ago. Góbéfest gives me the opportunity to unveil the mystery.
“I am hoping that Góbéfest will also inspire some of the other less well known communities in Manchester to share and showcase their own culture.”
Read more details at www.gobefest.com