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Festivalbar: more than a music festival

 Festivalbar is a music festival that used to be hosted every summer (from 1964 to 2007) in some of the most beautiful locations of the country and was broadcast every week on primetime tv. Maybe the use of the past simple “was” would be more appropriate while talking about it, as Festivalbar no longer takes place; nevertheless, the present simple “is”  is emblematic of the sense of nostalgia many feels for the event. Who doesn’t know Festivalbar can’t really understand what it represented to several generations of Italians, especially for those who had been teenagers in the70s, 80s and 90s. The show became a symbol and example for all pop music festivals in the country that followed: it showcased the most famous singers and performers of the time – both Italians and foreigners, all the way traveling around Italy and setting stage in some of its best squares.


Festivalbar in Turin in 2005, one of the last editions. Ph. flickr/Lorenzo D. A. S. 


 Festivalbar was, for many, a true institution and people couldn’t wait for it to begin. So many reasons were behind it:


Festivalbar represented the inauguration of Summer


The beginning of the Festivalbar coincided with the beginning of Summer: so often, when its first TV ads would air, its jingle a popular song of one of the guests, many would feel they could finally say: L’estate è arrivata! (Summer has come). The end of school would be near, too, so children and teenagers would associate the beginning of the show to that of Summer holidays, a certain reason to smile and feel good.



Festivalbar became an icon of great 80s and 90s  pop music


The event always featured very famous singers, proposing to the public what was considered the best music of the season. Teenagers would dance and sing their favorite tunes from all over the world, and Italian performers had the opportunity to promote their songs, embracing the dream of seeing one of their own tunes turn into an instant Summer hit.



Piazza Castello in Turin after the Festivalbar. Ph. flickr/Lorenzo D. A. S. 


Festivalbar was an itinerant event


One of the most successful characteristics of Festivalbar was its itinerant format: the event would move every week from one town to another and it would end up covering the whole of Italy in the space of a Summer. Because of this, the show was always set against some of the most amazing backdrops imaginable, both from a natural and architectural point of view. For many years, though, its final was held in the Arena di Verona, a symbol of Italian music and art.


Towns joyfully hosted large numbers of people singing and dancing at the rhythm of Summer music, on some of the hottest of Italian Summers’ evenings: for many, it was an opportunity to get to know other Italian towns, either directly or on TV. Others would love the fact that, because Festivalbar and its artists travelled everywhere,  there was always the opportunity to get to one of the shows without having to travel too far from home. Many more were simply happy to see their hometown on TV.



Festivalbar and Summer songs


Festivalbar was a really important event thanks to its connection with successful songs. A strict link was established between the event and the songs and, as a result, the show promoted and anticipated the most successful tunes of the summer. At the same time, the presence of popular artists on its stage made the show as famous as it was.



Festivalbar as a nostalgic event


Some people miss the old music successes and the way they were presented to the public during the show. Because the majority of Festivalbar’s followers were teenagers at the time, it is especially thirty and forty-somethings who miss and demand the return of the show. And in fact, it truly must be said: Summers seem not to be the same without such a long music event broadcast on television.


Not simply a music show,then, but a real temple of music’s history on Italian television. Festivalbar came to an end in 2007, but many still await its return. Although it doesn’t seem to be likely, its memory is kept alive in forums and websites created by the many fans who can’t accept this long Summer of music and tradition is really over.


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