VeszprémFest to Host new and Returning Star Performers

In Hungary

Zoltán Mészáros

After two years of COVID-impacted festival seasons, VeszprémFest returns from July 11-16 with a diverse, demanding art experience in the “City of Queens,” with all genres, from opera to classical music, jazz, and world music.

Besides renowned international stars Diana Krall, Jamie Cullum, Ana Moura, The Gipsy Kings, ZAZ, and James Blunt, young Hungarian musicians will also perform.

Among the headliners is double Grammy-awarded Krall, who returns after her concert in 2013. “I think she is the best instructor in that she shows the most popular face of jazz for those who are not familiar or less familiar with the genre. With her songs and by shaping the great compositions of jazz history into her image, she creates a real effect,” Zoltán Mészáros, managing director of VeszprémFest, tells the Budapest Business Journal.

“Our most sub-cultural invitee is Ana Moura, the world-famous Portuguese faddist. After performers from Africa and Latin America in previous years, this is the first time we ‘travel’ to Portugal. I consider it important that world music does not fade away from the festival’s international musical palette,” Mészáros explains.

VeszprémFest’s accompanying wine event, “Rosé, Rizling and Jazz Days,” runs from July 8-17 at its traditional location of Óváros tér, Veszprém. The 12th gastro-cultural event will welcome visitors with the slogan “10 days, 30 winemakers, 30 concerts.” Among other improved features is a new location at Városháza tér, a quieter place for families with young children.

“We have noticed that a lot of young couples are coming with children, so this year we are organizing a children’s animation corner together with the European Capital of Culture project, a part of which is a drawing competition that has been organized for years. It is important to provide these families with more program opportunities and improve their experiences at the festival,” says Mészáros.

In addition to the international performers, Hungarian bands, including the Budapest Bossanova Quartet, Valami Swing, and the Varga Tivadar Trió, will also take the stage, some featuring on the main stage as pre-bands.

“We always try to provide an opportunity for young and early-career Hungarian performers on the main stage who would not be able to perform in front of an audience of 3,000.”

Obstacles Overcome

The past two years have posed extreme obstacles to festival organizers, as the entertainment industry suffered the most COVID-related restrictions. Mészáros acknowledges severe difficulties but hopes this year will recall pre-pandemic times.

“For the first time in the festival’s history, the main-stage concerts were canceled in 2020, with only the Rosé, Rizling and Jazz Days being held, postponed to August. It was dramatic also from a business perspective, with almost all of our revenue falling while our costs remained,” Mészáros recalls.

“For this reason, we focused the 2021 festival on Hungarian performers, Tom Jones being the only international performer. I consider last year successful, but 2020 hit us hard.”

The festival, which this year introduces a new app with ticket purchase options and a parking assist function, expects performers to return with more stunning visuals and lights after two years of canceled tours. Despite the financial and organizational hurdles caused by the pandemic and inflation, this year’s event is returning to its usual shape.

“We see that the European festival industry, including the Hungarian ones, is lively and bustling again. We look ahead to this year’s festival as we did with the last COVID-free year in 2019,” Mészáros concludes.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of July 1, 2022.

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