There are more than 15 different summer festivals in Belarus. Some of them are dedicated to music, and others are inviting you to try different foods, and they are creating an excellent atmosphere. For most of them, the program has nothing to do with the place they are held. But not for the so-called festivals of the place - where every part of the program tries to fit in the local spirit in the best possible way. Here is the ultimate guide for the best of them all - SPRAVA festival, that is taking place every first weekend of August in Belaya Tserkov.
The Belarusian word "sprava" can be translated as a "deal/affair/business". When a Belarusian wants to ask, "how are you?", they would say "yak spravy?" meaning "how are your affairs going?". The festival was organised, for the first time in 2017, by the local young freelancers living in Belaya Tserkov. They used a crowdfunding campaign, and many volunteers helped them to draw attention to this place they love so much. After a successful first edition, organizers continued to develop the concept of a festival of the place.
Belaya Tserkov was named after the Trinity Church on the Chireya Lake Peninsula. Since its first mention in 1066, the Chireya region had several important lineages. In the mid-15th century, the Sapeg family decided to build a white church on top of a hill overlooking the lake. For centuries, this church has been a famous landmark for travelers and a spiritual place for locals. In the USSR, religion was forbidden, and the church was used as a barn and a training ground for mountaineering. After an unfortunate mountaineer death in the 1960s, the church was abandoned. Locals started using the bricks for their needs, and this church was quickly deteriorating. This was in complete contrast with the nature that flourished there. So, one of the goals of the festival is to support its reconstruction.
Most visitors come again after their first visit. At some point, the festival will probably exceed the territory of the peninsula. I've heard one of the visitors saying that attending SPRAVA is the best way to see the beauty of the Belarusian soul. I agree with that thought. Although everything at the festival is in Belarussian or Russian, I kept noticing relaxed-looking foreigners coming to this festival. One of the best qualities that Belarusians own is its hospitality. Now, use a bit of math and imagine that this hospitality is multiplied by the number of locals (around 2000) and distributed more or less equally between tourists. That's how you feel at SPRAVA.
People come here to relax and enjoy the arts. The program and activities may seem pretty random when you see them for the first time, but when you are there, everything is entirely natural. In its early editions, SPRAVA was offering birdwatching, herb picking, drumming and termenvox workshops (the first electronic musical instrument in the history of humanity), acro-yoga, puppetry, filmstrips. And even if the program changes every year, some of the best activities come in new forms, so you can also try them out.
The best way to get to Belaya Tserkov would be to write to the festival's Facebook page that you need a lift, as most visitors come by cars. Most of them are open-minded, and if they have extra space in their vehicles, they'll be happy to help a foreign tourist to get to SPRAVA. There is also usually a mini-bus, organized by SPRAVA for an additional fee. Use Google Translate on the festival webpage for more details and phone numbers. It's also possible to rent a bicycle in Minsk and ride some 166 km. If this seems too challenging for you, take a train to the "Krupki" or "Bobr" station. They are about 40 km away from Belaya Tserkov. You will have to pay a supplement for a bike, but that won't exceed 4 BYN (2 USD / EUR) per person per way.
For a better experience, bring your tent, sleeping bag, or yoga mat. Take everything else you need for a comfortable hike: a mosquito spray, a first aid kit, a rain-coat, a bottle and a cup for liquids, a torch, etc. You can swim at the lake during the day, so don't forget to bring your bathing suit, a towel, a sunscreen, and your coolest sunglasses. If you really can't imagine sleeping in a tent, you can book a room in the "Hunter and Fisherman's Hut" in Chereya or in the hotel "Lukoml" in Novolukoml. But, it is best to make your reservation two or three months in advance. SPRAVA - the festival of the place, is getting bigger and better each year. If you are reading this ultimate guide to SPRAVA festival in Belaya Tserkov, there is a good chance that we will meet there next August!
Cover Picture © spravafestival.by/author unknown
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