From Prague to Caracas: 60 years of youth festivals

Hundreds of young people from all over the world gathered Aug. 23-26 in Caracas, Venezuela, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first World Festival of Youth and Students.

Over three days, the delegates participated in several plenary discussions, enjoyed art, music and other cultural presentations, held formal bilateral meetings with one another, and embarked on visits to Caracas neighborhoods to see the Venezuelan revolution and the building of socialism firsthand.

Today’s generation of young people learned about and celebrated the past festivals during a lively presentation from festival veterans — including from one from Mexico and another from Venezuela, both of whom participated in the founding meeting of World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) in 1945 in London and in the first festival held in 1947 in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

The festival movement was initiated by WFDY with the aim of uniting youth and students to build peace and solidarity among the world’s peoples, and to ensure — in the wake of World War II — that fascism would never rise again. Since the first festival, 15 others were organized. The last one was held in Venezuela in 2005, attended by over 17,000 youth from 144 countries.

The celebration this year in Caracas also coincided with a WFDY coordinating council and general consultative meeting to plan the 17th festival for the summer of 2009. A decision will likely be made at the WFDY general council meeting in Portugal in February 2008 as to which country will be the host for the festival.

It was clear from the events and energy of the anniversary celebration that the festival movement will continue for years to come.