Uzana Fest is the largest festival in Bulgaria, related to green ideas and ecological lifestyle. Three days under the stars, among the crickets and trees on the highest herb meadow in Bulgaria, life seems to flow with a different rhythm. We share our big and small ideas for living in harmony with nature. We meet kindred spirits and prove to our children that we can be part of it.
Spiritual practices, organic food, lectures, friendships, music, community, arts and crafts - this is Uzana Fest!
Uzana Fest is an ecological festival uniting miscellaneous interactive activities for environmental protection. It is an exhibition of good eco-practices, successful organic products and sustainable art initiatives. А forum for responsible attitude towards nature, healthy and sustainable lifestyles, eco-innovation and green culture. А living network of socially engaged businesses, training discussions and seminars, loyal and active supporters acting as awakeners for transformation of attitudes towards nature.
With the realization of Uzana Fest, held from July 23 – 25, 2021, Municipality of Gabrovo aims to establish the event as a national forum for responsible attitude to nature and its resources, to support the efforts of the non-governmental sector, businesses and local governance in the field of sustainable development and circular economy, to engage the general public, especially young people, in environmental protection activities.
The concept of Uzana Fest is entirely subordinated to the environmentally friendly lifestyle, spiritual harmony in line with nature, separate waste collection, zero carbon footprint, recycling and use of renewable energy resources. The main objective of the festival is the transformation of people's attitudes and behaviour, focusing on the inspiring principles of the Green policies, building on lessons from nature and giving birth to innovations in the industry.
The event provides an opportunity for a meeting of "green" thinkers and successful ecological models, presented in several different zones through eco practices, interactive activities and lectures on environmental protection, healthy organic products and sustainable art initiatives in the especially designated festival sites like - Knowledge corner, Activities, Kids center, Art zone and Yin&Yan center.
Uzana Fest is an event about music, arts, knowledge and shared emotions which brings together people who live and think in harmony with nature.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context
Uzana Fest was created as an environmental initiative and with its first edition it became the first festival in Bulgaria, dedicated to environmental protection and the relationship between humans and nature. The aim of the event is to bring people closer to nature, to literally position them in the heart of the mountains, in the forest, on a beautiful wide meadow.
In 2021 the festival returned after a 5-year break, with the organization, preparation and realization of the event taken over entirely by Municipality of Gabrovo. Due to its ecological nature, Uzana Fest was also one of the leading events dedicated to the European Green Leaf Award, whose winner for 2021 was Gabrovo.
The festival's ecological intent was embodied in all the details of the event - from the plastic-free commercial serving areas, to the provided recycling bins, to the lectures and talks that imparted knowledge and advice on protecting biodiversity, preserving animal and plant habitats, and ways to reduce one's personal carbon footprint.
The festival was an opportunity for attendees to re-examine their relationship with nature by adopting, as an alternative to a human-centered view, one that has life at its center.
Throughout the three festival days, people and nature lived in harmony, keeping a balanced equilibrium and proving that a secular event can be gentle, caring and full of environmental thoughts. The model of Uzana Fest can be adopted in other similar events to reduce the negative effects on nature, but also to highlight the opportunity to be aware of our surroundings and to live in harmony with nature.
Uzana Fest is an exhibition of good eco practices and successful organic products. It is also a forum for responsible attitude to nature, healthy lifestyle, ecological innovation and green culture.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context
Uzana Fest is an event that transforms everyday life, turning it into an emotion-filled adventure. The three festival days offer different experiences tailored to the interests of different audiences. The dynamics of the activities, the connection between art and different practices, and the opportunity to lead a healthy lifestyle give the event a unique feeling of an experience shared with nature.
The festival offers many activities in which every visitor can find his or her value, his or her place, his or her personal experience - individually, with family, with friends or with strangers.
In the designated 7 zones various activities take place - hiking in the mountains, farm games, yoga, breathing practices, paneuvrythmy, dances, lectures and talks, concert evenings, painting with natural materials, candle casting, knitting, making clay pots, soap making, sewing textile tulips, making jewelry from recycled materials, kite making, magic school, horse riding, children's educational games for bird and forest conservation, etc.
The aesthetics of the festival and the quality of the experience are enhanced by the opportunity for constant contact with nature and the feeling that everything that happens in the mountain area is harmonious, peaceful, spiritual and gives new meaning to the usual everyday life.
The festival is a good example in terms of aesthetics and experience, as the activities held in its happening can be realized in other territories. The materials used in the workshops are natural products or recycled raw materials, making them affordable and feasible. All that is needed is imagination and a love of nature.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context
In 2021, Uzana Fest was attended by about 10 000 people. Everyone who wanted to spend 3 days in nature had equal opportunities to participate.
The festival does not set limits but provides opportunities for all stakeholders to get involved. Wide access to the festival was also guaranteed by the fact that it was free, there was no entry ticket. Information about the event was published and disseminated through all possible communication channels of the organizers, a special website (uzanafest.gabrovo.bg) was also created, where up-to-date and important information about the festival was published. To facilitate access to the festival town, eco-friendly buses were organised, with ramps for people with physical disabilities. Parking areas were provided so that cars did not encroach on the festival area, but to be close enough to make it convenient to get around on foot.
Immediate access to the festival town was secured via a beautiful mountain road. There were also quite a few people who chose to move by bicycles, as well as those who preferred to make a short mountain hike. For the camping enthusiasts, a tent camp area was set up, which was populated by over 150 tents.
Various attractions, workshops and practices provided the opportunity for every visitor to get involved according to their interests and views.
Proof of the active involvement of civil society was the huge interest in the festival, the thousands of visitors and the hundreds of good reviews shared with the organizers.
Please highlight how this approach can be exemplary
Uzana Fest is an inspiring example of a beautiful, sustainable and inclusive initiative, as the festival brings people closer to nature, contributes to reconnecting them with their surroundings and helps to preserve the balance in nature and supports biodiversity conservation. Designed to be entirely eco-friendly, the festival combines the beauty in the human-nature connection with opportunities for unadulterated experiences and provides free access to all interested parties.
The festival is welcoming to all who wish to spend 3 days in harmony with nature. The deepest meaning is the opportunity to show that the union between man and nature is possible, that man can return to his original essence and feel at home when he is in the mountains, walking barefoot in the meadow or just drinking tea from forest herbs. And all this can happen without harm to flora and fauna, but in harmony. And the greatest value of the festival is the people - the speakers, the ecologists, the masters, the trainers, the demonstrators, the farmers, the chefs, the dancers, the musicians, the visitors, the guests and the participants.
The combination of various environmental activities with a colorful music program, creative workshops and knowledge about healthy living make the festival extremely successful and desirable. The format of the event allows it to be multiplied and implemented in other territories and regions.
In this context the triangle of sustainability, aesthetics and inclusion is fully met.
Uzana Fest gathered more than 10 000 participants and guests united by green ideas. The concept and organization of the event were entirely subordinated to the environmentally friendly way of life, spiritual harmony and harmony with nature, separate waste collection, zero carbon footprint, recycling, renewable energy sources. For three days the mountain was home to green ideas and practices and showed us that we need to stop a little, turn a bit inward and work to achieve harmony with nature.
20 were the official lectures and presentations. Countless - informal meetings to share experiences, advice, exchange ideas and common future plans. There were also different types of yoga, panevrythmy, dances, meditation, breathing and gong practices.
There were 25 farmers and growers, and 10 eco and producers, from whom visitors could buy organic fruits and vegetables, honey, cosmetics, pastilles, milk, cheese, jams, chutneys, meat delights. The craftsmen, besides their works, shared their skills in the many workshops - pottery, knitting, soap and candle making, sewing.
More than 50 participants - singers, musicians, dance groups, puppeteers and magicians took the stage under the open sky.
All visitors and festival participants were encouraged to reduce their waste, limit their use of natural resources and reduce their carbon footprint.
As a result of the festival, various lectures and educational games on nature conservation and healthy living were held; all garbage that was generated during the festival was collected separately - recycled and composted, the use of single-use plastic containers was reduced, the amount of CO2 emissions was reduced through the use of electric buses, bicycles and walking.
Please also explain the benefits that derived from their involvement.
Volunteers, the invisible bees of the festival, were the people who made sure that visitors were informed and guided, that the lectures, demonstrations and spiritual practices happened calmly and orderly, that the waste reached its particulat drop-off point.
The community recognised the event so much that information about it was successfully spread "by word of mouth", and exhibitors, participants and visitors floodes social networks with posts without any prior organisation.
The event assures deployment of new knowledge, introduction of practices and demonstration of achievements to various interested groups, participants or casual visitors. In this way, imperceptibly capacity building and knowledge acquisition are achieved, besides the targeted activities, purposefully organized by professionals and dedicated activists. In the realization process, participants of various backgrounds that represent different social groups, professions and proclivities have the opportunity to meet, interact, exchange and share. Thus, the added value of moiling the attitudes and dispositions is achieved, addressing through co-creation other societal issues of more complexity and depth. Aesthetics is infused through creative provocations and involvement in focused quality initiatives with replicability potential.
To feel oneself as part of the circuits in nature, not a pure observer, is one of the challenges and successes of the festival. With the difference that man has the power and the skill to cause and terminate processes. Bird conservation is one of the green causes of the project. The Green Balkans Rescue Centre was among the most attractive participants. Every year, children and rescuers release treated wild birds back into the nature of Uzana. And through the stories of birds whose disabilities prevent them from being released, we learn about a variety of not-so-popular species and the effects of human activity.
Preserving biodiversity is one of the global challenges the Festival addresses. Others are related to diminishing the carbon footprint of each one of us - some people used public electric buses to get to the event, others rode bicycles or chose to use the eco trails from the city to the mountain.
The food section was obeying strict rules for waste separation and collection and no plastic was allowed.
Some of the food during the Festival was served in edible containers - waffle cups for your morning coffee and long pasta straws for the fresh lemonade serves on the meadow.
The coffee grounds were collected and any visitor could take some for cosmetic purposes or fertilizer.
During the lectures, innovative global solutions for renewable energy and water purification were presented. Young start ups shared their visions and small productions of soil mulching from sheep wool or a machine for eco-briquettes made from waste paper, sawdust, grasses and pits.
Please provide clear documentation, communication of methodology and principles in this context.
Uzana Fest is a good example of how an event can combine sustainable environmental policies with a quality experience for its participants. It focuses on the global problems of pollution and climate change, offering knowledge and solutions to tackle them, while the festival itself is an example of such good solutions. Involving diverse communities and giving people knowledge and skills raises the awareness for global issues and offers a non-standard approach to address them.
In view of its intermodality and the fact that festivals are held all over the world, Uzana Fest is an event whose approach to hosting can be multiplied in other territories. The festival demonstrates a clear approach to solving problems such as the overuse of plastic, the overconsumption of natural resources, CO2 pollution - problems that are common and for which every action for change and improvement is of great importance.
Each visitor could take something for himself from the festival - in his home and everyday life, for his business and the environmental principles it could follow, could find green innovations and like-minded people.
The potential for transfer of the results and lessons learned from the event is clear and possible for any other event that involves gathering of audiences, is dedicated to creativity, emphasizes on green ideas and care for the nature.
@Municipality of Gabrovo, 2021
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