Established in 1993, the international Lent Festival is among the largest open-air festivals in Europe and the most massive festival of its kind in Slovenia. Each year it presents around 300 diverse cultural performances and events on different stages, including various styles of popular music, opera, rock, ballet, jazz, classical music, street theatre, chanson, folklore and revivalist folk, theatre, busking music, events for children, dance performances and musicals, workshops for children and also sport events. The festival is a cacophony of sounds and quantity, easy going festivities and smoky barbecues, but also an occasion for quality performances at more hidden intimate venues.
Lent Festival regularly attracts around 500,000 spectators, dispersed during the 3-week-long event at over 23 venues, improvised stages and re-purposed old spaces along the banks of the Drava River. The Festival is a member of the International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA) and the Association of Slovene Festivals (SloFA).
Among the internationally acclaimed musicians and domestic music groups which have performed at Lent are: Ray Charles, James Brown, B.B. King, Cesaria Evora, Afro-Cuban All Stars, Living Colour, Maceo Parker, the Alfredo Rodriguez Group (featuring Tata Guines), Brad Mehldau, Jesus Alemany, Sierra Maestra, Solomon Burke, Zlatko Kaučič Kombo, Bratko Bibič & The Madleys, Paquito D’Rivera, David Sanchez, and more.
The festival also includes the Maribor component of the Ana Desetnica International Street Theatre Festival and stand-up comedy performances by Slovene and Croatian comedians, a section entitled Jazzlent and the vivid Folkart International Folklore Festival, Maribor from which Lent Festival itself actually evolved.
During recent years the Jazzlent stage has gained more attentive and consistent programming with attractive international and domestic musicians. The Jazzlent line-up for 2010 featured such highlights as Yuri Honing Wired Paradise (NL) and Abdourahmane Diop and the Griot Music Company (SN).
Picked from the list of hundreds of musicians, music groups, and bands the 2010 festival included Kaja Draksler Acropolis Quartet, Samo Šalamon Trio featuring Michel Godard, Ray Anderson’s Pocket Brass Band, Steve Swallow, James Blood Ulmer Trio Odyssey, Gangbé Brass Band, Fred Wesley & The New JB’s, Mahala Raï Banda, and Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra.
In 2010 a special exhibition entitled Re-start featuring photography by Borut Krajnc celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Slovene cult punk band Pankrti.
The majority of Lent Festival events are presented in the riverside area of old Maribor known as Lent, where the Main Stage (a floating stage on the water of the Drava river in the bay next to the Water Tower), others are staged at the ‘Večer’ Stage (sponsored by Večer Newspaper) in Lent, the Jazzlent Stage, the Jurček Stage (at Usnjarska ulica in Lent) and the Rotovž Stage, a tented venue located at Rotovž Square next to the Maribor Town Hall.
Seating: bleacher seating for c 2,200 spectators; performing area: 20m W x 20m D built on pontoons at the height of 3m on the Drava River, with optional extra stage 10m W x 6m D for orchestra or special guests; lighting and sound equipment: supplied according to needs; stage equipment: adaptable roof with installed sound and lighting system available for technically complex projects, space for mixing tables and operators; backstage: dressing rooms available on request
Seating: 400 seats; performing area: 9m W x 8m D x 1.25m H with semi-elliptical canopy; lighting and sound equipment: supplied according to needs; backstage: dressing rooms available on request
Seating: 200 seats, 150 on bleacher rake; seating: 200 seats (150 in bleacher rake); performing area: 9m W x 10m D with semi-elliptical canopy; lighting and sound equipment: supplied according to needs; backstage: dressing rooms available.
Seating: 400 seats; performing area: 3m W x 3m D with canopy; lighting and sound equipment: supplied according to needs; backstage: dressing rooms available
Seating: 660 seats, including 300 removable and 360 on bleacher rake; performing area: 15m x 15m x 6m H; lighting and sound equipment: supplied according to needs; backstage: dressing rooms available.