We need to talk about La Strada. It’s supposed to be a festival of street theatre and puppetry, but I didn’t see any puppets. Maybe they were just for the kids shows. What I did see, was incredible.
A beautiful menagerie of music and acrobatics from Akoreacro, a swing-dance party that took over a whole street. Multi-lingual voices from past and present suspended from the trees, a symphony composed solely from sounds recorded at the train station. A three-storey building constructed in a single day made out of only cardboard and tape, a musical comedy and satire that perfectly fit the work by Dali that inspired it, and a live two-hour interactive theatre piece on abandoned waste ground in German.
Actually, there was even more. But if that’s not enough then forget it!
However, if that sounds good, and you’re looking for a cool new city in Europe to explore, then Austria’s second city Graz should be in your top choices.
Each August, public spaces, parks, and the city’s best venues host two weeks of cultural events. They include the open dances in the street, music and art installations, puppetry shows, circus performers, and a full program of paid performances to choose from as well.
The La Strada festival really makes it’s presence known, by taking over this historic town with their bright orange flags and signs. You’ll see them everywhere from the remains of the fort above the towns, to helium balloons carried by groups of kids. It all adds to the fun.
You can see my highlights of La Strada 2014 on Travel Unmasked.
Wandering this city to see the different shows, you find out what Graz is actually about. Graz is the medieval capital of Styria with nearly 1000 years of history, so while it has large museums like the antique Styrian Armoury (with over 30,000 ancient artifacts), it also has the ultra-modern design of the Kunsthaus and others, which can all be admired from the top of Schlossberg hill.
But most interestingly – Graz is in the midst of an urban revival. So much so that I think it’s the coolest European city you’ve never heard of. There are great hotels, modern restaurants, contemporary art and design, and even clever shops that are trying to fix community and social problems.
I wrote about how cool Graz is on my blog as well, again with plenty of photos. Most of them made it into a great article from Austrian paper Kleine Zeitung about other bloggers that have fallen in love with Graz, so you can check that out too.
This city and festival both come highly recommended by me.