PLAI Festival 2011 Event Poster

From the category of world music festivals that will rock your mind and soul this September, PLAI festival is just the thing to end your summer with and get refilled with energy and positive thoughts for a brand new autumn.

Now, if you’re not from Romania it’s most probable you have no idea what PLAI is, but if you are, and you’ve been spending a beautiful weekend every autumn for five years listening to great music and discovering cultures all around the world, you’ll probably understand what I’m talking about.

PLAI is an international world music festival which combines for 3 days music, art, and multiculturalism in a pitoresque location, “Banat” Village Museum from Timisoara, Romania. The location itself is tightly related to the numerous cultures that have lived and continue to live in Timisoara. So basically for three days you move from the city, to a village museum, during the day you relax with painting, drawing, creative activities or music workshops, you get in touch with people from far far away, and in the evening you travel around the world through music.

Warsaw Village Band from Poland at Plai Festival 2011 Romania

Warsaw Village Band, one of the bands present at this year’s edition of PLAI.

The festival usually takes place somewhere in the middle of September, and has already reached its sixth edition this year. Until now we had the change to discover sonorities that we had no idea existed with artists like Misia, Mariza, Al di Meola, Paco de Lucia, Trilok Gurtu, Dobet Gnahore and a lot more.

This year’s line-up is not less entertaining. Some of the featured artists include Besh O Drom, The Idan Raichel Project, BeeFolk, Warsaw Village Band, Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra and the headliner of the festival, Susana Baca, the artist who contributed to the revival of Afro-Peruvian music.

Susana Baca Plai Festival 2011 Romania

Susana Baca, recently named Minister of Culture in Peru, is the headliner of the festival.

But here comes the best part: during the day you can take part in over 200 activities of unconventional art offered by the 45 organizations (NGOs, embassies and cultural institutes) and you can meet the artists face to face during music workshops. And the beautiful thing is that the festival is organized 100 % by volunteers.

A ticket is about 15 euros/21 $ for the whole festival, and this year the location even has a camping area. If you really want to join the event, there are a lot of cheap accommodation possibilities in Timisoara.

Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra from China at Plai Festival 2011 Romania

Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra, one of the bands present this year.

It’s surprising that even the public of festival has become itself more and more multicultural. At the first edition there were only local people joining, but each year people from the whole Romania and other countries started visiting.

Here’s how Nina Harada, artist from LA and visitor at the festival describes the experience of Plai:

I am a lover of all things music, art and food so the minute I stepped onto the Banat Village Museum grounds I was in heaven. But Plai is more than just these things. I struggle to put my time at Plai into words because it truly was one of the best experiences of my life. Perhaps it was because I felt a connection to the music, as so many cultures were represented from all over the world and I too am a product of mixed cultural heritage. Or maybe it was because of the many modes of creative expression I was able to take part in, from painting to weaving, and as an artist myself it was so incredible to be able to create against the lush backdrop of a Romanian forest and to the sounds of music from around the world. Or, perhaps it was because I had not seen my dear friend, sister really, in six years and to be able to see her after all that time in such a magical setting made that weekend even more special. Or perhaps because through all of this, it was so clear the passion and pride the people who made Plai happen had for their home, Timisoara. And that kind of love is infectious. I too felt a part of the festival, the town and the country even if for just one weekend.

So, if you decided to pack your bags and drop by the biggest European world music festival from 16th to 18th September, let us know in the comments. Maybe we’ll have the chance to meet offline.

In the end, we leave you with some selections from this year’s line-up. What do you say?

Photos from the Plai website.