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Why Poland’s independence day is marred

The occasion should be one for celebration in Poland. But controversy and confusion over a planned f..

The occasion should be one for celebration in Poland. But controversy and confusion over a planned far-right independence march in the capital Warsaw has overshadowed preparations.A court in Warsaw on Thursday overturned a decision by the city's mayor to ban the march over security concerns after the organizers appealed.Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, of the opposition Civic Platform party, had declared Wednesday that the march should not go ahead because Warsaw had "suffered enough due to aggressive nationalism," Reuters news agency said.Hours after she announced the ban, Poland's President and Prime Minister said the government would stage its own official march Sunday along the same route as the planned far-right march.It's now unclear what will happen on the day.The situation has been complicated by mass protest action by Poland's police, which has cast doubt over their capacity to ensure security during the march. Gronkiewicz-Waltz said Thursday she would appeal the court ruling that reinstated the unofficial march. "We have an argument in the form of yesterday's order of the Prime Minister that directs the military police to help the police," she said. "It means that our assessments were correct that police would not be able to do it."She argued that in banning the march, she was primarily guided by security considerations. "We do not know to what extent the policemen will return to work," she said.Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, of the ruling right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, on Wednesday called on Twitter for marchers to unite under Poland's white and red flag to celebrate the centenary.Organizers of the unofficial "March of Independence" — including two nationalist groups, the All-Polish Youth and the National Radical Camp — welcomed the court ruling overturning the ban.But Robert Bąkiewicz, chairman of the organizing group, said they were talking to authorities with the public image of their homeland in mind. "We want (November 11) to be the holiday of all patriots," he tweeted Friday.Last year, ultra nationalists and fascist groups disrupted the main independence day march in Warsaw.One of the lead organizations involved in the march was the National Radical Camp, which had previously taken to the streets to protest against Muslim immigration, gay rights, the European Union and anything it considers undermines Polish Catholic values.The day celebrates the rebirth of Poland in November 1918, 123 years after the Prussian, Habsburg and Russian empires carved up Poland among themselves and erased it from the map of Europe.

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Austrian politician draws fury with ‘deeply racist’ poem

Christian Schilcher, a member of the anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPÖ) that forms half of the cou..

Christian Schilcher, a member of the anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPÖ) that forms half of the country's ruling alliance, had published the poem in the Easter edition of his party's regional newspaper.It used xenophobic imagery to suggest that migrants should assimilate or "quickly hurry away" from their adopted countries, and was written over a drawing of a rat wearing a long black beard and hat.One line reads: "if you mix two cultures … it's as if you destroy them.""Just as we live down here, so must other rats, who as guests or migrants … share with us the way of life, or … quickly hurry away," the poem also says. Its title roughly translates to "The City Rat (Rodent from the Sewer)."Schilcher served as the deputy mayor of the small town of Braunau am Inn before his resignation was announced on Tuesday, reported by Austrian news agency APA.He had initially defended the message of the poem, claiming in an interview with regional newspaper Oberösterreichische Nachrichten that he had not considered the historical connotations of the comparison between humans and rats.Comparing Jewish people to rodents was a tactic frequently used in Nazi German propaganda under Adolf Hitler, who was born in Braunau am Inn.Chancellor Kurz — who has previously come under pressure to denounce the rhetoric and actions of FPÖ politicians — welcomed Schilcher's resignation, after initially condemning the poem."The resignation of the vice mayor #Braunau of was the only logical consequence of this vile and racist poem," he wrote on Twitter, calling the move "necessary and correct."Kurz has attempted to curb criticism over his ties with the far right party, as he prepares to contest next month's European elections. The FPÖ has been in government with Kurz's Austrian People's Party since the country's 2017 election, in which both parties took a hard line against immigration."The choice of words is disgusting, shows contempt for human beings and is deeply racist," he told Austrian news agency APA after the poem had first been discovered."The Freedom Party in Upper Austria must distance themselves from this immediately and unequivocally and issue a clarification," he added.Read More – Source

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He played Ukraine’s president on TV. Now it’s a reality

Ukrainians threw their overwhelming support behind comedian, actor and businessman Volodymyr Zelensk..

Ukrainians threw their overwhelming support behind comedian, actor and businessman Volodymyr Zelensky in Sunday's presidential election, according to exit polls, choosing a political novice over five more years of Petro Poroshenko. The 41-year-old political newcomer won 73.2% of the vote while incumbent Poroshenko won 25.3%, according to an exit poll from Ukraine's state broadcaster Ukrinform. It was the second round of elections.Zelensky's rise to power is a testament to voters' deep-rooted disappointment in the governing class, disgust over rampant corruption, and a flagging economy. Prior to his bid for the presidency, Zelensky was best known for his role in the Ukrainian comedy series, "Servant of the People," where he played a destitute schoolteacher who unexpectedly becomes president of Ukraine after becoming famous for an anti-corruption rant that went viral on social media. In real life, his entertainment empire is estimated to be worth tens of millions. Art mirrored reality when Zelensky used that same platform to announce his bid for the presidency. On New Year's Eve, he addressed the nation on the 1+1 channel, which broadcasts his show and is the country's second most popular TV station. Initially, support for Zelensky was largely seen as a protest vote, and his popularity grew as faith in Poroshenko floundered. Poroshenko, who came to power in the aftermath of the 2013 pro-Western Maidan protests, ran on a militant patriotic platform, but it appears to have struck the wrong chord with a population exhausted from a 5-year proxy war with Russia.

Inherited problems

Since Russia's annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014, Ukrainian troops have been battling in the eastern Donbas region against Russian-backed separatists, who have received military support from Moscow. According to United Nations estimates, the conflict has claimed almost 13,000 lives, with at least 3,321 civilian deaths.In November, tensions with Moscow reached fever pitch after Russia seized three Ukrainian navy ships and detained 24 sailors in the Kerch Strait, a strategic waterway. Poroshenko's government responded by imposing martial law and warning of impending Russian invasion.Though Zelensky will certainly inherit those problems, it's not clear how he will manage them. Zelensky casts his ballot in the first round of voting in AprilZelensky ran on a fairly nebulous platform, offering little in the way of concrete policies. He also largely avoided having to express his views publicly, dodging big interviews, holding few press conferences and famously standing up Poroshenko at the first scheduled debate. Speaking on the 1+1 show, "The Right to Power" earlier this week, Zelensky said it was his campaign's strategy to not go on talk shows where "people from the old government sit and quarrel, do only PR and no real deals." "I wasn't hiding from anyone," he said, adding an apology to journalists who might have been offended by his lack of attention to the press.Although Zelensky never provided any clear policy goals, what did emerge from his campaign platform was his attention to starting fresh and a vow to fight against corruption and oligarchy.

Life imitating art

And while his television series is a fictional comedy, the subjects explored in the show may offer clues to how he plans to lead — or at least to what Ukrainians might expect of him.In the show, the intersection between crime and politics is a persistent theme, and Zelensky ran on a promise to get rid of systemic corruption.His character also primarily speaks Russian, along with many other cast members. Thirty percent of Ukraine speaks Russian, according to government statistics, and language is a controversial subject used by all sides to score political points. Read More – Source

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11 of Budapest’s best festivals

(CNN) — Straddling the picturesque Danube, Budapest provides the perfect backdrop for a festival and..

(CNN) — Straddling the picturesque Danube, Budapest provides the perfect backdrop for a festival and this city definitely knows how to put on a show.Barely a month goes by when the Hungarian capital isn't playing host to some sort of event celebrating food and drink, music, dance or the arts.

For those keen to go and join the party, we've rounded up some of the most entertaining festivities happening in Budapest throughout the year.

Rosalia Festival

Rosalia Festival is dedicated to rosé wines, sparkling wines and champagnes.

Courtesy Rosalia Festival

Each year, Budapest jumps the gun on summer over a weekend in May for the Rosalia Festival.

Created by the organizers of September's wine festival, it's Hungary's only event dedicated to celebrating rosé wine, as well as champagne and sparkling wines.

Taking place over three days, it features a Rosé Garden, tastings, jazz concerts, Hungarian food stalls and special events for children.

Dates: May 31 to June 2, 2019

Sziget Festival

Sziget Festival

One of the biggest music festivals in Europe — Sziget Festival takes place every August.

Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

For more than 25 years, the week-long Sziget Festival has been taking over the Danube river island of Óbudai-sziget every August, showcasing more than 1,000 performers and drawing tens of thousands of people from all over the world.

It's one of Europe's biggest music festivals, attracting performers including 2019 headliners Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran.

Revelers soak up the lively ambience as dance artists put on theatrical performances on the site and everyone goes for a dip in the Danube along the sandy beach.

Dates: Aug 1 to 13, 2019

Budapest Summer Festival

Held throughout June, July and August, the Budapest Summer Festival brings some of the world's top classical musicians and ballet dancers to Margaret Island, located in the heart of Budapest.

There's a varied program of opera, ballet and classical music — with a bit of jazz and pop thrown in for good measure — most of which takes place in the enchanting setting of the Margaret Island Open-Air Stage.

Look out for the performances held in the open-air stage set up in the shadow of Margaret Island's historic water tower.

Dates: June to September

Budapest Summer Festivals, Open-Air Theatre, 1122 Budapest, Városmajor; +36 1 375-5922

Budapest Christmas markets

Budapest winter activities

The Christmas market on St. Stephen's Square is one of Budapest's top draws in winter.

Courtesy Hungarian National Tourist Office

Prepare to be utterly charmed by Budapest's Advent Christmas fair, which is held annually in the square in front of St. Stephen's Basilica.

From late November to early January, the area is filled with market stalls selling trinkets, toys, crafts and plenty of irresistible Hungarian food and drink.

Those who visit on Sunday can watch the Advent candles being lit.

To top it all off, there's a small but perfectly formed ice rink in the center, adding a further dollop of festive magic.

Even more treats are on offer at Vorosmarty Square, where the city's main Christmas market is held.

There are more than 100 stalls selling gifts and food — all of which have been personally vetted by a jury — ensuring the quality is high.

Budapest Wine Festival

Every September, Buda Castle becomes one giant civilized party in the late summer sun when scores of wine producers show off their latest vintages in a relaxed, yet convivial atmosphere.

Buy a glass and take it round for tastings at the various stalls, picking up Hungarian snacks along the way.

Four festival stages take turns with music and entertainment throughout the four-day event and there's also a Harvest Parade around Buda Castle celebrating folk music and dancing.

Dates: September 5 to 8, 2019

Budapest Fish Festival

Budapest Fish Festival

Traditional Hungarian cuisine meets international creations at the Budapest Fish Festival.

Courtesy Budapest Fish Festival

Hungarians spend the winter months keeping warm with a dish called halászlé — a red hot fisherman's soup brimming with paprika and river fish.

When early March comes round, many head to the three-day Budapest Fish Festival to feast on this spicy dish and plenty of other types of fish.

Heroes' Square is the setting for cooking contests, wine tastings, folklore music and fun for the kids — not to mention stall after stall of mouthwatering dishes.

Dates: March 2, to 4, 2019

Budapest Fish Festival, Heroes' Square, Budapest, Hősök tere, 1146

Danube Carnival

The Margaret Island Open-Air Stage and a host of other open-air venues around the Danube become filled with color during this week-long festival of folk dance in June.

Several hundred international dancers and musicians bring their own cultural sounds and dances to mingle with traditional Hungarian styles at the annual event.

The Carnival Parade that goes along the Danube Promenade to Vorosmarty Square is one of the festival's main highlights.

Dates: TBC

Festival of Folk Arts

Festival of Folks Arts

Festival of Folk Arts brings top Hungarian craftsmen to Buda Castle.

Janos Peter photography

Craftspeople from all around Hungary descend on Buda Castle every August for a three-day celebration of crafts made in the country for hundreds of years.

Visitors can take part in workshops and watch the experts in action as they spin, weave, carve, paint, demonstrating skills that have been handed down over the generations.

The festival includes folk dances and performances and — this being Hungary — plenty of food stalls offering delectable traditionalRead More – Source

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Why Poland’s independence day is marred

The occasion should be one for celebration in Poland. But controversy and confusion over a planned f..

The occasion should be one for celebration in Poland. But controversy and confusion over a planned far-right independence march in the capital Warsaw has overshadowed preparations.A court in Warsaw on Thursday overturned a decision by the city's mayor to ban the march over security concerns after the organizers appealed.Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, of the opposition Civic Platform party, had declared Wednesday that the march should not go ahead because Warsaw had "suffered enough due to aggressive nationalism," Reuters news agency said.Hours after she announced the ban, Poland's President and Prime Minister said the government would stage its own official march Sunday along the same route as the planned far-right march.It's now unclear what will happen on the day.The situation has been complicated by mass protest action by Poland's police, which has cast doubt over their capacity to ensure security during the march. Gronkiewicz-Waltz said Thursday she would appeal the court ruling that reinstated the unofficial march. "We have an argument in the form of yesterday's order of the Prime Minister that directs the military police to help the police," she said. "It means that our assessments were correct that police would not be able to do it."She argued that in banning the march, she was primarily guided by security considerations. "We do not know to what extent the policemen will return to work," she said.Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, of the ruling right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, on Wednesday called on Twitter for marchers to unite under Poland's white and red flag to celebrate the centenary.Organizers of the unofficial "March of Independence" — including two nationalist groups, the All-Polish Youth and the National Radical Camp — welcomed the court ruling overturning the ban.But Robert Bąkiewicz, chairman of the organizing group, said they were talking to authorities with the public image of their homeland in mind. "We want (November 11) to be the holiday of all patriots," he tweeted Friday.Last year, ultra nationalists and fascist groups disrupted the main independence day march in Warsaw.One of the lead organizations involved in the march was the National Radical Camp, which had previously taken to the streets to protest against Muslim immigration, gay rights, the European Union and anything it considers undermines Polish Catholic values.The day celebrates the rebirth of Poland in November 1918, 123 years after the Prussian, Habsburg and Russian empires carved up Poland among themselves and erased it from the map of Europe.

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Austrian politician draws fury with ‘deeply racist’ poem

Christian Schilcher, a member of the anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPÖ) that forms half of the cou..

Christian Schilcher, a member of the anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPÖ) that forms half of the country's ruling alliance, had published the poem in the Easter edition of his party's regional newspaper.It used xenophobic imagery to suggest that migrants should assimilate or "quickly hurry away" from their adopted countries, and was written over a drawing of a rat wearing a long black beard and hat.One line reads: "if you mix two cultures … it's as if you destroy them.""Just as we live down here, so must other rats, who as guests or migrants … share with us the way of life, or … quickly hurry away," the poem also says. Its title roughly translates to "The City Rat (Rodent from the Sewer)."Schilcher served as the deputy mayor of the small town of Braunau am Inn before his resignation was announced on Tuesday, reported by Austrian news agency APA.He had initially defended the message of the poem, claiming in an interview with regional newspaper Oberösterreichische Nachrichten that he had not considered the historical connotations of the comparison between humans and rats.Comparing Jewish people to rodents was a tactic frequently used in Nazi German propaganda under Adolf Hitler, who was born in Braunau am Inn.Chancellor Kurz — who has previously come under pressure to denounce the rhetoric and actions of FPÖ politicians — welcomed Schilcher's resignation, after initially condemning the poem."The resignation of the vice mayor #Braunau of was the only logical consequence of this vile and racist poem," he wrote on Twitter, calling the move "necessary and correct."Kurz has attempted to curb criticism over his ties with the far right party, as he prepares to contest next month's European elections. The FPÖ has been in government with Kurz's Austrian People's Party since the country's 2017 election, in which both parties took a hard line against immigration."The choice of words is disgusting, shows contempt for human beings and is deeply racist," he told Austrian news agency APA after the poem had first been discovered."The Freedom Party in Upper Austria must distance themselves from this immediately and unequivocally and issue a clarification," he added.Read More – Source

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He played Ukraine’s president on TV. Now it’s a reality

Ukrainians threw their overwhelming support behind comedian, actor and businessman Volodymyr Zelensk..

Ukrainians threw their overwhelming support behind comedian, actor and businessman Volodymyr Zelensky in Sunday's presidential election, according to exit polls, choosing a political novice over five more years of Petro Poroshenko. The 41-year-old political newcomer won 73.2% of the vote while incumbent Poroshenko won 25.3%, according to an exit poll from Ukraine's state broadcaster Ukrinform. It was the second round of elections.Zelensky's rise to power is a testament to voters' deep-rooted disappointment in the governing class, disgust over rampant corruption, and a flagging economy. Prior to his bid for the presidency, Zelensky was best known for his role in the Ukrainian comedy series, "Servant of the People," where he played a destitute schoolteacher who unexpectedly becomes president of Ukraine after becoming famous for an anti-corruption rant that went viral on social media. In real life, his entertainment empire is estimated to be worth tens of millions. Art mirrored reality when Zelensky used that same platform to announce his bid for the presidency. On New Year's Eve, he addressed the nation on the 1+1 channel, which broadcasts his show and is the country's second most popular TV station. Initially, support for Zelensky was largely seen as a protest vote, and his popularity grew as faith in Poroshenko floundered. Poroshenko, who came to power in the aftermath of the 2013 pro-Western Maidan protests, ran on a militant patriotic platform, but it appears to have struck the wrong chord with a population exhausted from a 5-year proxy war with Russia.

Inherited problems

Since Russia's annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014, Ukrainian troops have been battling in the eastern Donbas region against Russian-backed separatists, who have received military support from Moscow. According to United Nations estimates, the conflict has claimed almost 13,000 lives, with at least 3,321 civilian deaths.In November, tensions with Moscow reached fever pitch after Russia seized three Ukrainian navy ships and detained 24 sailors in the Kerch Strait, a strategic waterway. Poroshenko's government responded by imposing martial law and warning of impending Russian invasion.Though Zelensky will certainly inherit those problems, it's not clear how he will manage them. Zelensky casts his ballot in the first round of voting in AprilZelensky ran on a fairly nebulous platform, offering little in the way of concrete policies. He also largely avoided having to express his views publicly, dodging big interviews, holding few press conferences and famously standing up Poroshenko at the first scheduled debate. Speaking on the 1+1 show, "The Right to Power" earlier this week, Zelensky said it was his campaign's strategy to not go on talk shows where "people from the old government sit and quarrel, do only PR and no real deals." "I wasn't hiding from anyone," he said, adding an apology to journalists who might have been offended by his lack of attention to the press.Although Zelensky never provided any clear policy goals, what did emerge from his campaign platform was his attention to starting fresh and a vow to fight against corruption and oligarchy.

Life imitating art

And while his television series is a fictional comedy, the subjects explored in the show may offer clues to how he plans to lead — or at least to what Ukrainians might expect of him.In the show, the intersection between crime and politics is a persistent theme, and Zelensky ran on a promise to get rid of systemic corruption.His character also primarily speaks Russian, along with many other cast members. Thirty percent of Ukraine speaks Russian, according to government statistics, and language is a controversial subject used by all sides to score political points. Read More – Source

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11 of Budapest’s best festivals

(CNN) — Straddling the picturesque Danube, Budapest provides the perfect backdrop for a festival and..

(CNN) — Straddling the picturesque Danube, Budapest provides the perfect backdrop for a festival and this city definitely knows how to put on a show.Barely a month goes by when the Hungarian capital isn't playing host to some sort of event celebrating food and drink, music, dance or the arts.

For those keen to go and join the party, we've rounded up some of the most entertaining festivities happening in Budapest throughout the year.

Rosalia Festival

Rosalia Festival is dedicated to rosé wines, sparkling wines and champagnes.

Courtesy Rosalia Festival

Each year, Budapest jumps the gun on summer over a weekend in May for the Rosalia Festival.

Created by the organizers of September's wine festival, it's Hungary's only event dedicated to celebrating rosé wine, as well as champagne and sparkling wines.

Taking place over three days, it features a Rosé Garden, tastings, jazz concerts, Hungarian food stalls and special events for children.

Dates: May 31 to June 2, 2019

Sziget Festival

Sziget Festival

One of the biggest music festivals in Europe — Sziget Festival takes place every August.

Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

For more than 25 years, the week-long Sziget Festival has been taking over the Danube river island of Óbudai-sziget every August, showcasing more than 1,000 performers and drawing tens of thousands of people from all over the world.

It's one of Europe's biggest music festivals, attracting performers including 2019 headliners Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran.

Revelers soak up the lively ambience as dance artists put on theatrical performances on the site and everyone goes for a dip in the Danube along the sandy beach.

Dates: Aug 1 to 13, 2019

Budapest Summer Festival

Held throughout June, July and August, the Budapest Summer Festival brings some of the world's top classical musicians and ballet dancers to Margaret Island, located in the heart of Budapest.

There's a varied program of opera, ballet and classical music — with a bit of jazz and pop thrown in for good measure — most of which takes place in the enchanting setting of the Margaret Island Open-Air Stage.

Look out for the performances held in the open-air stage set up in the shadow of Margaret Island's historic water tower.

Dates: June to September

Budapest Summer Festivals, Open-Air Theatre, 1122 Budapest, Városmajor; +36 1 375-5922

Budapest Christmas markets

Budapest winter activities

The Christmas market on St. Stephen's Square is one of Budapest's top draws in winter.

Courtesy Hungarian National Tourist Office

Prepare to be utterly charmed by Budapest's Advent Christmas fair, which is held annually in the square in front of St. Stephen's Basilica.

From late November to early January, the area is filled with market stalls selling trinkets, toys, crafts and plenty of irresistible Hungarian food and drink.

Those who visit on Sunday can watch the Advent candles being lit.

To top it all off, there's a small but perfectly formed ice rink in the center, adding a further dollop of festive magic.

Even more treats are on offer at Vorosmarty Square, where the city's main Christmas market is held.

There are more than 100 stalls selling gifts and food — all of which have been personally vetted by a jury — ensuring the quality is high.

Budapest Wine Festival

Every September, Buda Castle becomes one giant civilized party in the late summer sun when scores of wine producers show off their latest vintages in a relaxed, yet convivial atmosphere.

Buy a glass and take it round for tastings at the various stalls, picking up Hungarian snacks along the way.

Four festival stages take turns with music and entertainment throughout the four-day event and there's also a Harvest Parade around Buda Castle celebrating folk music and dancing.

Dates: September 5 to 8, 2019

Budapest Fish Festival

Budapest Fish Festival

Traditional Hungarian cuisine meets international creations at the Budapest Fish Festival.

Courtesy Budapest Fish Festival

Hungarians spend the winter months keeping warm with a dish called halászlé — a red hot fisherman's soup brimming with paprika and river fish.

When early March comes round, many head to the three-day Budapest Fish Festival to feast on this spicy dish and plenty of other types of fish.

Heroes' Square is the setting for cooking contests, wine tastings, folklore music and fun for the kids — not to mention stall after stall of mouthwatering dishes.

Dates: March 2, to 4, 2019

Budapest Fish Festival, Heroes' Square, Budapest, Hősök tere, 1146

Danube Carnival

The Margaret Island Open-Air Stage and a host of other open-air venues around the Danube become filled with color during this week-long festival of folk dance in June.

Several hundred international dancers and musicians bring their own cultural sounds and dances to mingle with traditional Hungarian styles at the annual event.

The Carnival Parade that goes along the Danube Promenade to Vorosmarty Square is one of the festival's main highlights.

Dates: TBC

Festival of Folk Arts

Festival of Folks Arts

Festival of Folk Arts brings top Hungarian craftsmen to Buda Castle.

Janos Peter photography

Craftspeople from all around Hungary descend on Buda Castle every August for a three-day celebration of crafts made in the country for hundreds of years.

Visitors can take part in workshops and watch the experts in action as they spin, weave, carve, paint, demonstrating skills that have been handed down over the generations.

The festival includes folk dances and performances and — this being Hungary — plenty of food stalls offering delectable traditionalRead More – Source

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