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“There Is More To Transylvania Than Dracula” – Manchester To Host UK’s First Transylvanian Hungarian Festival

By Tamás Székely // 2017.02.22.

“I want to show the UK that there’s more to Hungarians than paprika and more to Transylvania than Dracula,” says Ottilia Ördög, organiser of the country’s first Transylvanian-Hungarian festival of arts and culture to be held on 13-14 May 2017.


Ottilia Ördög, CEO & Artistic director of Gobéfest that will take place on Manchester’s central Albert square

A Transylvanian herself, Ottilia was born in Sepsiszentgyörgy (Sfântu Gheorghe, Ro), Kovászna (Covasna, Ro) county, moving to England with her family aged 12. After twenty years of working tirelessly on the Manchester music scene, managing artists, putting on club nights, presenting a radio show and helping young people of all nationalities record their own music, Ottilia felt it was time she shared her own culture’s little known music, dance, cuisine and arts and crafts with her adoptive north west city; a music and football loving city that, for its size, has been called the most culturally diverse in the world. Music, dance and food will be at the heart of Góbéfest*, as they are at the heart of Transylvanian culture.

Acts from across the Hungarian diaspora will perform for free in the Manchester’s central Albert Square (13/14 May), which will also play host to the city’s first Hungarian market. A táncház will take place at the city’s Dancehouse theatre on the preceding Friday. Musicians travelling to Manchester from Transylvania and Hungary cover many styles, from folk right through to classical, jazz, rock and world music. They include hurdy gurdy maestro and renaissance music expert Robert Mandel ,the Mátyás Király Zither Ensemble, who are all still at school,  pop trio Saverne, Transylmania, an eight piece folk rock band who have played together for 15 years and Folktone band.

Traditional folk dance troupes include Háromszék, who will be flying in from Sepsiszentgyörgy and three groups now resident around the UK: H-Unique Dance, Szeredás Dance Group London and The Ti-Ti-Ta Hungarian Folkdance Group. The main festival stage will be surrounded by market stalls, selling Hungarian food, drink, arts and crafts. Visitors will be able to sample traditional delicacies for the first time, including gulyás, lángos and kürtőskalács. A range of alcoholic drinks little known in the UK will also be sold, including Transylvanian craft beer Csiki, palinca and the Tokaji wine. Ottilia said: “Over the years, hundreds of people have asked me about Transylvania, where I grew up before moving to England, 26 years ago. Góbéfest gives me the opportunity to unveil the mystery.

“I think it’s very important to celebrate diversity and learn about other cultures. Manchester, being the third most multicultural city in the world, gives us the perfect location to do just that.“The festival will raise the profile of Transylvanian and Hungarian culture in the UK and plant the seed of Transylvania as a holiday destination. There is a direct flight to Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca, Ro) from Liverpool, which is only an hour down the road. “I am hoping that Góbéfest will also inspire some of the other less well known communities in Manchester to share and showcase their own culture.”

Click here to read more about the Gobéfest of Manchester!

*Góbé is a word meaning “crafty Secler”. The Székelys or Székely are ethnic Hungarians living in SzékelyLand, an ethno-Hungarian region in Transylvania, Romania.