It has been two decades since the city of Gijón would open for the first time its Black Week. This is a multitudinous meeting to get involved into many different cultural activities during ten consecutive days after the second week in july. This is one of the most relevant cultural meetings, not only for the city of Gijón but for the whole peninsula.
Ten days which start with the arriving of the popular Black Train from Madrid full of writers and journalists. This is the starting point for one of the most foolish weeks of the year, an unusual week with more than seven days. Here there are combined multicultural activities with official events in the surroundings of the Park Elisabeth the Catholic, on the shores of the river Piles, and in the neighbouring Stadium Molinón.
Here we find everything: food caravans, book fair, more than 50 cafés and bars on open air, music at the street, attractions, circus, night festivals, different dances, conjuring and magic, street market, video cinema at the street, juggling, journalism… in conclusion the most popular festival of all popular genres. This is maybe due to the background of the detective novel that thanks to its social concern, also involves the rest of the genres: comics, cinema, science fiction, historical cinema, expositions, social, demanding, subversive, emigrant movements…
Book Shops at the street share the same appearance of those food and drink stalls, and round tables spread along the streets so if you are interested in something in particular, you can take a seat. With all this the council is aimed to offer activities for people of all ages, so in that way if you go to a concert you can also end the day sitting in a round table of literature, cinema, comics, photography or even participate actively in a debate. Here there is no particular menu, we can choose among a great variety of dishes.
The goal of this festival is also to give promotion to the minorities’ culture in a festive environment. This is the victory of a wild populism, or at least it is how Paco Ignacio Taibo II understands it, the Mexican writer and precursor of this festival event since 1988 and current director of the orchestra of this Black Cinema Week. Once he defined this meeting in the city of Gijón as the “event in which you can hold a book in one hand while you eat a doughnut with the other”.
This festival summons two hundred people between artists and authors yearly, coming from the different universes of the detective, historical and science fiction backgrounds, apart from people related to comics or photography. Also here we can find more than one hundred accredited journalists from all parts of Spain and also from the five continents.
There are near 300 lineal meters of book shops and a big space for the selling of special book offers, in which we can buy those books we thought we would never find.
At the street somebody will probably try to sell us the newspaper called “A Quemarropa”, the newspaper published during this week which contains all the main events taking place in the morning and during the night.
Near the Molinón Stadium we can enjoy the interethnic street market where we can enjoy live concerts, street artists’ shows, fairs and two interesting expositions.
In early morning there is a special poetry reading that also summons hundreds of people in the most strict respect and silence.
But apart from this, we can also enjoy a big wheel that spins around just in the middle of the frenetic activity of this festival, quiz, competition, solidarity encounter, cultural event or how they would prefer to call it.
And finally something that we almost forget; in the Black Week two world record Guinnes took place. The first one was the longest conga of all Europe that was formed by 6.200 people in 1991 and, the second record was the longest row of books (1.650 metres) given by present people for the Cuban readers in 1994.