30th Festival Anniversary of the Performing Arts in Sibiu, Romania.
FITS30 - a 12-hour daily cultural marathon 

Sibiu, located in Romanian Transylvania, is also Hermannstadt, a kind of enclave in Romania. This is not only due to its special location in the middle of Romania, in Transylvania, on a plateau surrounded by mountains, and therefore already somewhat isolated from the other regions, which has also had an effect on its cultural history.

(Photo: Calin Muresan)

From 23 June to 2 July this year, FITS, the Sibiu International Theatre Festival, celebrated its 30th anniversary with a daily cultural fitness marathon from noon to midnight. During a visit on the occasion of the European Capital of Culture in 2007, compared to the numbers of guests who turned up this year, the region and city of Sibiu seemed almost overcrowded, but especially overflowing with people who moved through the streets and alleys to experience and, above all, enjoy culture of all kinds from mid-morning until late into the evening.

"We are a multi-layered and complex festival of all arts, FITS is a perfect blend of theatre, dance, circus, film, musical, opera, books, conferences, exhibitions, performances, music and street shows," is how festival director Constantin Chiriac named it in the preface. Visitors and guests could once again form their own impression of this. (Photo: Sebastian Marcovici)

Since 2007, the press office of KulturForum Europa has reported from time to time on the major event in Sibiu and was surprised this year how much the festival had grown into a must for locals and tourists, for young and old alike. One could see strange faces, and hear a multi-layered buzz of voices in a common feel-good tenor. 

The free open-air events attracted crowds of onlookers every day to the streets and squares of the tranquil city centre, which does not give a typical Romanian impression even during the year, but at festival times resembles a fair of nations.

Tomorrow's festivals mean immersive technology, sustainability and holistic well-being

Festivals are popular events that focus not only on theatre, music and dance, but also on an intoxicating atmosphere. "Miracle", the 30th edition of the FITS Festival once again led visitors to impressive experiences.

Not only the international participants of the shows lined up in this. There was the will behind it to enrich the city of Sibiu, its citizens and the surrounding region with culture in the form of performing arts on an international level. An independent festival life has been developing in the Romanian region for years and the makers of the local Radu Stanca National Theatre, above all its festival organiser Constantin Chiriac, have already put many things on track for such a future.

From its humble beginnings, the FITS Festival has developed into a trademark over the years, especially since 2007. And the image of the city of Sibiu also benefits from this.

(Photo: Diana Racz)
For a quarter of a century, more than 500 street theatres have performed in the streets and squares of Sibiu, and the festival programme has included both open-air and very popular performances in the circus tent. Over the past 25 editions of FITS, the outdoor performances, especially those in Sibiu's two main squares, have attracted the largest audiences. In the churches of the city and its surroundings, Romanian and international artists and bands staged fado, gospel, organ, opera and other concerts, as they did this year. 

"From the first edition of the festival, Sibiu hosted some of the most representative international theatre groups, directors, actors and set designers, which led not only to a change in the openness of the community to other mentalities, worlds and cultures, but also to a professionalisation of Romanian artists and performing arts students, who were invited to Sibiu to perform and participate in workshops, conferences, etc. In the 27 editions of the festival, more than 1,500 performances (theatre, dance, circus, music, opera, musicals, concerts) were presented, of which more than 1,000 were theatre performances. ... Famous world-class directors or young directors with great potential have contributed to the festival's notoriety, not to mention Romania's renowned directors," Chiriac knew to report.

Although the name of FITS still includes the word "theatre", it has become a real performing arts festival since the first editions. The need to introduce audiences not only to new forms of theatre but also to other art forms led the organisers to invite different types of dance performances - contemporary, traditional (flamenco, kathak, kabuki, butoh, noh, dervish, African, Balinese), hip-hop, flexing. 

Heritage performances, a festival speciality,

take a special place in the programme of theatre performances. These have been created over the years in Sibiu, have been highly appreciated by national and international audiences, including "Metamorphoses", "Faust", "Waiting for Godot", "The Scarlet Princess" not only as a constant festival feature, but as very special tourist attractions.

How the story began

In 1993, a group led by Constantin Chiriac, actor at the National Theatre "Radu Stanca" in Sibiu, decided to offer a theatre festival to the city. An action driven solely by the love of the city, the love of theatre and the desire to offer the community a landmark, a reason to be proud and joyful.

It was March and there were snow drifts. For many who had never seen snow except in films, Romania seemed a fascinating country. Guests carried garlic in their pockets to protect themselves from vampires. But the great Romanian performances and foreign theatres soon gave the festival the quality of a remarkable event in the international cultural landscape.

Year after year the event grew and 2007 marked an exceptional edition of the festival: in recognition of the event's contribution to the title of European Capital of Culture, together with Luxembourg and the Greater Region, this special edition brought more than 2,500 guests from 70 countries to perform.

Constantin Chiriac, who was also celebrating his 30th founding anniversary as Festival Director, proudly pointed out internationally renowned personalities, artists, directors, ambassadors, prime ministers and presidents who have been present at FITS over the years.

The fact that Romania's largest performing arts festival takes place in a small town in Transylvania attracted numerous culture lovers in 2023, as it did then. Streets, squares, cathedrals, churches, parks, fortresses, industrial and theatre halls overflowed with guests from all over the world who enjoyed this festival to the fullest. 

The news that all tickets had been sold by the start of the festival surprised no one, nor did the fully booked accommodation in the city long before the first day of the festival.

FITS confirmed once again that culture brings people together and moves communities forward, and can also fundamentally change the history and architecture of a city for the better, just as in Sibiu the dilapidated halls of a former flourishing industry were transformed into a real cultural factory.

What more could you want than to travel there, experience it for yourself and enjoy it?