Music fans flock to Albania beach festival despite virus
RANA E HEDHUN, Albania (AP) – The Albanian beach site had everything in one place: pine trees, sand, sea, nearby mountains and days of non-stop music.
“It’s very rare that you bring all of these things together at the same time,” said Unum outdoor music festival director Grego O’Halloran. As an Englishman living in Ibiza, Spain – another magical beach music scene – he knows what he’s talking about.
“Albania is the hidden gem of Europe,” he added. “(It’s) an hour, two hours, from almost all of Europe and it’s so beautiful and unknown.”
Organizers sold all 10,000 tickets for the June 3-7 festival featuring 50 international and local musicians, as people jumped at the chance to hear nonstop music for five days on the beach from Thrown Sand, 75 kilometers (45 miles) northwest of the capital, Tirana.
Organizers claimed everyone at the festival was free from COVID-19 but offered no evidence for these claims and no virus checks were apparent.
The main scene near the beach was on top of a sailboat, while another was under the pines near the beach. Tattoos weren’t mandatory for fans but many sported one or more. Fans have come from all over Europe, even as far as Uruguay.
Last year the festival was canceled due to the pandemic. This year, organizers struggled to recruit musicians from across Europe due to virus restrictions, but they prevailed.
“(It’s) awesome… crazy… crazy to see so many people in one place… (after) sitting in a room in your apartment alone in lockdown,” said German fan Katia Mueller.
The event was possible due to the low rate of contagion from Albania. He only recorded two new infections on Saturday. The Foreign Ministry noted that there are no pandemic restrictions for anyone wishing to come to Albania.
Albania has many pristine beaches along its 480 kilometer (300 mile) coastline along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, and in recent years tourism has become a key industry for one of the poorest countries in the world. ‘Europe.
Kosovo’s neighboring Albanians remain the main source of tourists so far, often accompanied by Polish and Czech groups, Serbs and Belarusians.
Franco Rodrigues from Uruguay follows a lot of music and has known many musicians from the festival, which he hoped was the start of a worldwide comeback to live events.
“It’s great that we can finally come back and play again,” he said.
The motto of the festival was that people become “One” and unite around the music. Some have said that music is more important than most people thought.
“It was necessary for our mental health,” said Ron Kurtolli, a DJ from Kosovo. “People don’t pay much attention to mental health, but it’s really important for the well-being of everything. ”
Samela, a Serbian living in Belgrade but born in Prizren, Kosovo, didn’t have time to give her last name but explained aloud how the festival connects people across borders. The Albanians and Serbs have long been enemies.
“I really had this sincere intention to break down the prejudices, to break down the stigma, to try to connect us about music… I can’t do it like music does. But ok, I’m trying now, ”she said.
Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.
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