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International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts

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CIOFF® Festivals

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What is a CIOFF Festival?

A CIOFF Festival is one of the means of safeguarding, promoting and diffusing traditional culture, mainly through such genres of expressions as music, dance, games, rituals, customs, know-how of handicraft and other arts. To be a significant contribution to the maintenance and enhancement of cultural identity and diversity, a folk art festival has to be implemented in an appropriate cultural context (PDF).

Only festivals which are members of CIOFF are recognized as CIOFF Festivals (See Application Procedure below). The appellation “CIOFF Festivals” however covers three different types of folk arts Festivals:

  • National Festivals without international participation

This category includes also the national multiethnic festivals.

  • CIOFF Festivals

This category includes adult as well as children’s Festivals.

CIOFF Festivals fulfill specific organizational and artistic requirements as defined in the CIOFF Guidelines for International Festivals (PDF). This guarantees the quality and the high artistic level of the events.

  • CIOFF International Festivals

CIOFF Festivals (for adults and for children) can apply to be recognized by CIOFF as “CIOFF International Festival” if they fulfill additional conditions as listed in the CIOFF Guidelines for International Festivals (PDF), conditions mainly related to a duration of at least 5 days, with at least 5 foreign groups and a cycle of one to five years.

All Festivals which are members of CIOFF are listed in the annual CIOFF Calendar of Festivals (PDF).

What are the objectives?

The main objectives of CIOFF Festivals are:

  • To provide an opportunity to present the whole world’s traditional heritage
  • To provide a participatory rather than a consumer model for Intangible Cultural Heritage
  • To further the aims of CIOFF and UNESCO in the dissemination and protection of traditional cultures
  • To promote mutual understanding and peace all over the world.



The Program on stage

An important part of CIOFF festival activities are the artistic performances. According to the CIOFF definitions of traditional programs on the stage, a performance is considered as representative of traditional culture if its content comes from or is inspired by an intangible cultural heritage, namely:

  • transmitted from generation to generation;
  • constantly re-created by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history;
  • providing them with a sense of identity and continuity;
  • promoting respect of cultural diversity and human creativity.

The programs can be of authentic, elaborated or stylized expression. Read more: Definition of traditional programs on the stage (PDF)

In addition, CIOFF Festivals also include places for craftsmen’s work, places where the audience can play traditional games with the foreign participants, as well as places for lectures, traditional food and other expressions of traditional culture of each participating country, workshops for dancing, singing, etc.,


Application Procedure

All benefits are only available for CIOFF Festivals and CIOFF International Festivals which are members of a CIOFF National Section.   National Festivals without international participation can also become members of their CIOFF National Section.  To become a member of CIOFF National Section, please contact the National Section of your country.

For those countries where no National Section exists, please contact the Sector Representative for your country:


Guidelines for International Folklore Festivals

The CIOFF Internal Regulations contain the basic requirements and other provisions on International Festivals, but the need to have more detailed guidance for the practical work of the festivals has been obvious.

The CIOFF Festivals Commission has therefore developed Guidelines for International Festivals (PDF) which cover the following main items:

  • Cultural Context of a Festival
  • Guidelines for Implementation
  • Recognition of CIOFF International Festivals


Guidelines for Folklore Groups

These Guidelines have been established for Folklore Groups that are attending or intend to participate in international folk arts festivals. These Guidelines for Folklore Groups (PDF) cover the following main items:

  • First contacts and Invitation
  • Confirmation
  • At the Festival
  • After the Festival


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