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EU Delegation Organizes 11th Annual Kids Euro Festival

By Chiara Vercellone

Now in its 11th year, the Kids Euro Festival is one of the largest performing art festivals for children in the United States. The festival brings many of Europe’s most talented children’s entertainers to the D.C. metro area for two weeks every fall, offering free performances, concerts and workshops for the general public.

The Kids Euro Festival, funded by the European Union Delegation to the U.S., strives to be a place where kids and the general public can experience European culture through a variety of events, such as puppetry, international cinema, dance, magic and cooking lessons. More than 10,000 area children and their families enjoy the events each year.

“We want [the kids] to know Europe, to be aware of our rich cultural heritage and what it is we stand for demonstrated most vividly by our motto: united in diversity. One can never start too early to build the transatlantic relationship,” said Maria Belovas, spokesperson for the EU Delegation to the U.S.

This year’s festival started on Oct. 20 and ended Nov. 4. Most events were held inside embassies that work with the program, but also in designated venues like the National Gallery of Art, Children’s National Medical Center and Shakespeare Theatre Company. Others were held outside given the nice late October temperatures, which averaged in the mid-60s.

“[This year] more than 80 fun kids’ activities will be presented by the member states of the European Union, together with more than 20 local and national cultural institutions,” said EU Ambassador David O’Sullivan.

Many of the events at the Euro Kids Festival were animated movies and characteristic short films from the participating countries. Finland, Denmark and Luxembourg were some of the many participating countries that screened films during the 11th Euro Kids Festival. Photo: EU Delegation to the US

The project first launched in 2008 to coincide with the French presidency of the EU that year (also see “Massive Kids Euro Festival Is No Mere Child’s Play” in the October 2012 issue), but the efforts have continued to make these two weeks an adventures where children create lasting impressions of European cultures while fostering their curiosity to learn more.

Today the goals stand the same as 11 years ago, as the delegation works to increase awareness of European cultural diversity.

Highlights of this year’s festival included the 60th anniversary celebration of the Smurfs (presented by the Belgium Embassy,) during which some of the most famous cartoon episodes were shown along with an exhibition of the evolution of the show. Another spectacular performance featured the Latvian youth choir “Alias,” which is composed of students and graduates with hearing impairments and hearing students who perform concerts, musicals and strive to create a new form of expression by interpreting their music with sign language.

Other events allowed children to become archaeologists for a day at the Greek Embassy; listen to ancient stories from Ireland; participate in a chemistry workshop with a Polish researcher; learn about French pastries; and watch an Italian play about Cinderella that taught tolerance, acceptance and respect.

Marie Sklodowska-Curie’s life, a Polish-born physicist, performed exciting hands-on experiments to let the kids explore the fascinating world of science and their potential to become real-life scientists by using household materials, like baking soda to create a volcano eruption. Photo: EU Delegation to the US

Last year’s Kids Euro Festival saw more than 8,400 attendees, and although all the figures haven’t been received yet, the EU Delegation believes this year’s festival will surpass those numbers.

“It is such a joy for us to put on this festival every year. Nothing beats seeing all these children that we can excite and educate with our unique programming,” said Belovas.

The committee has already started planning next year’s festival and different ideas have been brought to the table. However, the more detailed planning will begin next year, as diplomats now focus most of their attention to other upcoming events hosted by the delegation.

The EU Delegation organizes a variety of events throughout the year to promote Europe’s heritage in the United States. This includes the “European Month of Culture” throughout May showcasing exhibits, theater and dance, as well as the “EU Rendez-Vous” series, featuring senior EU and U.S. leaders discussing foreign policy and relations. More information on events organized by the EU Delegation can be found at http://events.euintheus.org/events/.

Johannes Stange and Joss Turnbull were among the many musicians that performed at the 11th Euro Kids Festival. Zweieinander is a mobile, German production that is also played in daycare and other facilities to bring music to children. Photo: EU Delegation to the US

Chiara Vercellone is an editorial intern for The Washington Diplomat.




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