Albania’s public broadcaster RTSH has confirmed that Festivali i Kenges 59 will go ahead, despite COVID-19.
The 59th edition of what is the country’s biggest and most long-running song contest will take place in December. The contest is usually used to select Albania’s entry for Eurovision 2021.
Last year’s winner, Arilena Ara was expecting to head to Rotterdam for this year’s Eurovision but it was cancelled due to the pandemic. This meant she did not have the chance to realise her Eurovision dream with her song “Fall From The Sky”. Now, as the Festivali will go ahead this year, a new entry for Eurovision will be selected.
Large gatherings are indefinitely cancelled in Albania but it is not known how the situation will be in December. RTSH have said the show will go on regardless, and if COVID-19 restrictions are still in place, they will have to adapt.
Festivali i Kenges is an annual music contest organised by RTSH. Not only is it a showcase of Albanian talent but it determines the representative of the Eurovision Song Contest. It has been running almost every year since 1962. It started with radio-only performances and progressed to live television over the years
The first contest was won by Vace Zela with a song called ‘Femija i Pare’. During communism, the music was strictly neutral and light. Over time it became a propaganda tool for the communist party.
In 1972, dictator Enver Hoxha prosecuted organisers of the festival and declared them as “enemies of the public”. They stood accused of incorporating “immoral aspects” into the songs and dances. Following this, the Communist Party imposed sanctions and strict censorship on the contest including type of music, dancing, lyrics, and clothing.