From: Alice Taylor
Sunny Hill Festival to Take Place in Tirana and Prishtina

In a sudden twist of events, the Sunny Hill festival which was due to be held in Prishtina, but was then moved to Tirana due to a dispute over a 99-year lease, will now be held in Prishtina once again with a second festival taking place in the Albanian capital.

Sunny Hill festival is organised by the father of Kosovar-British singer Dua Lipa and was set to take place this year following a two-year haitus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, last week, Dukagjin Lipa announced that it would take place in Tirana as the government had blocked the handing over of land where the festival would be held.

Lipa and his Sunny Hill team attempted to obtain a 99-year land lease in the village of Bernice e Poshtme, a 20-minute drive from the capital. They announced plans to turn the 17 hectares of land into a multi-use park in addition to being a venue for the festival for this year and in the future.

In addition, the contract stated that the municipality could not use the land for any event 40 days before and 20 days after Sunny Hill; it can only use the site for 60 days a year and only for events such as classical and jazz concerts. Furthermore, any events held on the land could not exceed 3000 visitors, and the municipality would only be able to keep 30% of all revenue from their own events.

On 10 May, members of Pristina’s municipality assembly voted on granting the lease for Sunny Hill, approving the contract for the land lease. A week later, it was sent to MAPL for review and approval.

However, due to opposition from members of Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s Vetëvendosje party, compliance concerns, and requests for clarification, Lipa determined it was impossible to hold this year’s event in Prishtina.

The news it was coming to Tirana sparked joy from local politicians, including Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj who said it would bring up to EUR 50 million to the local economy.

But on Monday (20 June) morning, a joint statement was issued by the Kosovo Ministry of Culture, the Municipality of Prishtina and the Sunny Hill team. It reads that the event will be held “at its home in Prishtina” on 4,5,6, and 7 August.

“The central and local institutions together, according to their mandate, will provide full support for this year’s edition, which will be held in a convenient location,” the statement reads.

While it does not mention where the festival will be held, it states that “from next year, the Sunny Hill festival will be organised in its long-term location” and that “all express their readiness for the issue of long-term land use to be discussed for a while until a lasting solution is found.”

It continues that “in the spirit of excellent cultural collaboration between Kosovo and Albania, a special edition with another line-up will be held at the end of August in Tirana on 26, 27, and 28 August.”

“An extraordinary summer awaits all Albanians in Prishtina and Tirana,” it concludes.

No further details have been announced so far.