6 days - August 8-13 2013
Balkan madness and brass bands as you've never known them. The annual brass festival in Guca has been going since 1961 and is one of the wildest festivals in Europe. 300,000 people descend on the village of Guca, home to just 3,000 inhabitants. For jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, Guca was an ear-opener.
For four days, there's feasting on spit-roasted lamb and pork, alcohol a plenty and some 40 brass bands playing the local dances - the kolo and the cocek. Brass bands are big in the Balkans, some featuring Serbian musicians, other Gypsies. At Guca you hear the best - Songlines cover star Goran Bregovic and Serbia's most celebrated trumpeter, Boban Markovic, who has frequently won the Golden Trumpet prize.
Aside from the concerts and competitions, much of the fun is to be had in the streets - eating, drinking and dancing around the tables till the small hours. We will arrange accommodation within the village, and enjoy two full days at the festival, with time to explore Belgrade at the end. It's an unrivalled opportunity to experience the biggest, brassiest and Balkanist festival in Europe.
All Songlines Music Travellers will receive an information sheet about the local music plus recommended recordings and DVDs.
Day 1 Thurs
We meet our Songlines Travel Leader at our hotel in Belgrade and have an initial briefing on the tour days ahead. Then it's time to head out into the city to explore the nightlife and catch the music. Serbians have an intense dedication to nightlife, and a feeling of celebration pervades the bars, restaurants and nightclubs of the capital.
Day 2 Fri
After breakfast we head south on the half-day drive to the small village of Guca. On arrival, after checking in, it's time to hit the streets. The Friday evening concert is usually one of the best of the weekend, but many of the memorable performances at Guca are not on stage; they are in the streets, as bands simply wander through the crowds. It's an intoxicating mix that sounds like equal parts military music, circus tune and parade march. Our first night's music will go on until the early hours.
Days 3 & 4 Sat & Sun
Saturday and Sunday are the two best days at the festival. On Saturday the parade is the thing; on Sunday it's time for the highlight of the festival - the finals of the Golden Trumpet competition. Only the finalists of a national competition held over the preceding months compete today, when 20 bands face off for the prize. The day begins at 6am, and culminates with a parade after which the contest begins with the firing of a cannon as all of the bands play the same song at once. Mayhem breaks out when the winning band is declared; the cue for more wandering bands, more food, and more alcohol, with the celebrations, and the increasing noise levels continuing into the night. Goran Bregovic is headlining on Sunday and we have an exclusive meet & greet with him after his concert
Day 5 Mon
After breakfast we head back to Belgrade. Arriving around lunchtime we have time in the afternoon to enjoy a wander around the city before a last evening together.
Day 6 Tues
Tour ends. After breakfast, time to head for the airport and the flight home, or continue your travels in Serbia.
Tour price (excl. flights) £585 per person
For information and reservations, call Songlines Music Travel on 020 8505 2582