From: Exit Staff
Festivali i Kenges to Take Place Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

Today, on December 21, the famous Albanian Song Festival- Festivali i Kenges starts and will run for a total of three days.

There will be 25 artists in the competition, one of whom will be selected to represent Albania in the Eurovision Song Contest. The festival will be held in an open environment behind the national stadium Air Albania.

Festival organizers announced in July that the festival would take place despite the pandemic. At the present moment, there are restrictions in place for any gatherings over 10 people and there is a curfew in place from 20:30. The State Police also said they would not permit any protests or gatherings in violation of the rules.

Last year’s winner Arilena Ara was due to go to Rotterdam for this year’s Eurovision, but the festival was cancelled due to the pandemic. This means that she does not have the opportunity to realize her dream at Eurovision with her song “Shaj”. Now, as the Festival takes place in December, a new song for Eurovision will be selected.

The Festival is an annual music competition organized by state broadcaster RTSH. Not only is it an exposition of Albanian talents, but it defines the representative in the European festival Eurovision. It has been running every year since 1962, first starting on the radio before progressing to television.

The first competition was won by Vace Zela with the song called ‘The First Child’. During communism, music was strictly censored and controlled. As the years passed, it became a propaganda tool for the Communist Party regime.

In 1972, dictator Enver Hoxha persecuted the festival organizers and declared them “enemies of the people.” They were accused of including “immoral aspects” in song and dance. After that, the Communist Party imposed strict sanctions and censorship on the competition including the type of music, dance, lyrics and dress.