The Marching Bands Festival of Cortina, also known as "Ra Fèŝta de ra Bàndes" in dialect or "Festa Delle Bande" in Italian, is one of the most loved events of the year, both by tourists and residents of Cortina d'Ampezzo.
During this week of festivities and music each evening is held an open-air concert, played by different music bands of the area. The event ends on the last Sunday of August, with a day of festivities, in which all the marching bands parade down Corso Italia. At the end of the marching band's parade there's a big concert, where all the participants play together. The festivities go on into the evening.
... The soul of a town in celebration...
On this page we'll tell you everything you need to know about this wonderful event. Its spirit is perfectly encapsulated in the historic motto: "The soul of a town in celebration".
The Marching Bands Festival of Cortina, known by the town as "Ra Fèŝta de ra Bàndes", was created on 1977, thanks to the work of the Music Maestro Renato Sartor and the President of the Music Band Osvaldo Majoni.
Initially the festival was held outdoors, but in 1984 the "Shell" Pavilion was opened. It is a retractable stage, under the bell tower, strongly desired by the Cortina Music Band, which will become the focal point of the Festival of Bands and many other events.
View the "Festa Delle Bande" is completely free, it takes place during the last week of August, and is structured as follows:
- On the evening of the penultimate Sunday of August the Music Band of Cortina d'Ampezzo opens the "Festa delle Bande" with a parade along Corso Italia, and a concert opening at the "Shell" Pavilion, under the bell tower.
- During the following week, every evening, a concert is held at the "Shell" Pavilion, from Monday to Friday. Throughout the week there's a small drink kiosk organized by the Music Band.
- On the last Saturday of August, the excitement begins. In the evening there's a concert with more energy and rhythm, more suitable for young people. There's a bigger kiosk that offers food and drinks, usually chicken and polenta and other typical specialties, accompanied by beer, wine and soft drinks.
- On Sunday there is the parade along Corso Italia, usually at 2 PM, in which bands from all over Europe participate, alternating with folklore groups and volunteers.
- Once the parade is over, at approximately 3:15 PM, there is a big concert in "Roma" Square. After the assembly the music bands play, all together, a few pieces. As you can imagine it is very emotional.
- Throughout the rest of the day there are concerts, cheerfulness and other folkloric events. If the sun is shining there is an air of festivity throughout the town center until evening.
As you may have guessed, the climax of the festival is the last Sunday in August, when music bands and folk groups take over the historic center of Cortina with concerts, parades, carousels and folk traditions, all flavored with lots of music. A day of traditions, merriment and color, which we recommend attending at least once in a lifetime.
... if you are in cortina you can not miss...
Throughout the event, kiosks will be working at full capacity to cheer guests with snacks and refreshing drinks. Drink and eat without remorse, all money raised during the "Festa delle Bande" is used to support the Cortina Music Band, the workers are volunteers without compensation.
Alternatively you can refresh yourself, or have something to eat, at one of the many bars in the center of Cortina. Some of them may hold some side events. If you have never been to Cortina, and you want to know more about the town center, we invite you to read the page we wrote on the subject, where you'll also find some insights on what to eat and where to go for a drink. You can find it below:
To help you find your way around the various concerts available, there are some flyers throughout the town. You can find them at the info point in center, in most of the shops of the center and on the section about the parade in the official website of the Cortina Music Band. This link will head you to the right section, but you'll need something to translate.
As you may read on the website, there are many more activities organized on Sunday than those listed on this page. Given that they vary from year to year, we encourage you to read the updated program.
The Music Band of Cortina
The music band of Cortina was born over a hundred and fifty years ago. In 1861, in fact, a headquarters, regulations and a name were given to the small village fanfare: the Musical Corps of Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Over the years, many Masters and many Presidents followed one another, but it was in 1977 that the Cortina Music Band acquired the identity we know today, with the traditional Ampezzo dress inspired by the models of the mid-eighteenth century.
The Cortina d'Ampezzo Music Corps performs concerts, parades and other activities both to promote musical culture in the town and to bring young people closer to music and Ampezzo traditions.
All these activities reach their climax during the "Fèŝta de ra Bàndes" we mentioned earlier.
The activities of the Cortina d'Ampezzo Music Corps are not limited to local events. Its members participate in, approximately, one hundred and fifty annual services in Italy and abroad. The number counts rehearsals, concerts and musical and folkloric events.
The Cortina d’Ampezzo Music Band counts as many as 66 elements, not counting the dealer and flag bearer who open the parade, followed by the female companions in costume, the beautiful marketenderin.
As you may have guessed, this is an association that has a strong sentimental value for the people of Cortina. Many residents are happy to have a few occasions in which to proudly wear the splendid traditional dress, supporting an association that also brings prestige outside the Ampezzo area.
The traditional outfit
During the Marching Bands Festival you can see many women dressed in traditional Tyrolean dress, called Dirndl, consisting of a colorful skirt and apron, paired with a white blouse.
There is also a male variant, consisting of short leather pants, called Lederhosen, paired with a small checkered shirt usually white and red.
These outfits are usually used during certain tradition-related events in the territories of Austria, Bavaria and the territories of Tyrol, to which Cortina has belonged to for hundreds of years.
Although Tyrolean culture has never particularly been felt on in Ampezzo, the costume has been quite successful, to the point that tourists and residents like to wear Dirndl and Lederhosen at some Ampezzo events, such as the Summer Party or the "Festa delle Bande".
When it comes to costumes, however, we must not confuse traditionally inspired outfits, which are used by sympathizers, from traditional ones, with a real historical value.
Usually modern Dirndl have very bright colors and are quite simple, created to be used only for one day and made to be comfortable. The same goes for Lederhosen, where the more modern models are softer and made of suede or artificially aged leather.
The outfits worn by some music bands, such as the Cortina's or many of the Tyrolean music bands, are called Tracht and are uniforms of great traditional value, with a centuries-old history and a very precise code for both color matching and choice of accessories.
Usually these dresses, which are not very comfortable to wear, are made of wool and thick leather, with bone buttons and hand-sewn decorations. The colors are very simple, in pastel or natural hues.
Before we conclude, we want to leave you with some interesting facts about the Cortina Marching Bands Festival, in no particular order.
The event has a large number of supporters, one of them is the famous Denis Novato. He is a virtuoso of the diatonic accordion, he has also been the world champion of accordion in 1993 and he has also 25 victories in several international competitions. We invite you to watch the program to find out if a concert by him is scheduled, it is worth going to listen to him.
... try to listen to Denis Novato, if he is present, it is really worth it...
If you are approached by nice girls with a small barrel over their shoulder, they are volunteers of the Music Band of Cortina. They sell a small glass of liquor, upon payment of a small contribution, often with a free offer. It is usually a sweet drink, not too alcoholic, and this is certainly a very characteristic and fun way to enjoy a sip of Schnapps in Corso Italia.
... it is an alternative way to have a sip of liquor in the town center...
If you see a group near the kiosk, yelling as they try to hammer a nail into a block of wood, you are watching the game of "peta ciodo", which translates as "hit the nail". We don't know the exact origin of this game, but it's a lot of fun. It's about being able to hammer a nail into the block before your opponents. You have only one hit, then you have to pass to the person next to you. It may seem pretty trivial, but the hammer is hollow in the center. There are many variations of the game, if you decide to participate, ask those present for the rules and do not forget that, usually, the loser pays a round of beer for all players.
We hope you liked this page on the "Festa delle Bande" of Cortina d'Ampezzo. Before saying goodbye, we would suggest you read all the articles we wrote about Cortina d'Ampezzo by clicking here.
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