Discover the Basque Country

Durango Fair Celebrates 50 Years of Basque Culture

By Jonathan McCallum

For a deeper understanding of Basque culture, make sure you visit the annual Durango Fair, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary from 4-8 December 2015.

In 1937 the Luftwaffe and Italian bombers, as ordered by General Franco, dropped their cargo of death upon civilians in Bizkaia, and two months later Pablo Picasso portrayed the event in what is possibly the greatest anti-war piece of art. The attack itself has still to this day, not received an official apology from Spain. However, in the 78 years since, Basque culture has not only recovered from the assault, it has flourished.  This year, the Durango Fair celebrates 50 years of Basque language arts, which spans the time when Euskara was banned under the Spanish dictatorship.  The once illegal gathering now attracts well over 150,000 visitors through its doors, all eager to experience the latest cultural offerings.

Fair of Durango Basque Country

Photo by Txelu Angoitia, Gerediaga Elkartea

The Durango Fair is a typical example of the resilience of the Basque people, using literature, art and music to capture pain, nurture healing and deepen their rich culture. These are the gifts of the Basque people. At a recent concert, a grey-haired Basque man wearing the traditional txapela, had tears streaming down his face as the lead singer Eñaut Elorrieta, sang about the bombing of Gernika – a song penned by the poet Joseba Sarrionandia, who himself escaped from a Spanish prison and is currently exiled abroad.

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