A Language Festival
is a mass educational event dedicated to languages and linguistics which is organized within the framework of the humanistic-
oriented international project of the same name. The idea of this project appeared due to the initiative of Dennis Keefe,a Franco-American Esperantist and public figure. He organized the first Language Festival (in Esperanto: L
estivalo) in Tours, France in 1995.
In contrast to frequent commercial fairs of training courses organized in various countries, the festival was aimed at the discovery of the diversity of the language world through open presentations of languages in the form of informative lessons. The first language festival drew the attention of about 800 students, whereas two years later it was attended by 3,600 people. A report about the first festival was published in the international Esperanto magazine "Kontakto". The event was highly appreciated by the readers, and in 1996 Russia also organized a Language Festival.
The first Language Festival in Russia held in Cheboksary was similar to Tours festival. Over the past 17 years the geography of the festival movement has expanded significantly. A number of countries of the near and far abroad (including Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Georgia, Moldova, Venezuela, China, the USA, Finland, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Sweden) grew interested in the ideas of the Language Festival. 2008 Language Festival with 13 500 participants held by one of the leading universities in the Chinese city of Nanjing is recognized as the largest event in the history of the festival movement.
About 10 Russian cities, namely Cheboksary, Ulyanovsk, Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Volgograd, Kemerovo, Ufa, Izhevsk, Kaluga, Yakutsk, Velikiy Novgorod, are currently engaged in Language Festivals' organization on the territory of Russia. Among Russian as well as foreign cities Cheboksary is the absolute leader. Since 1996 it has been a host for 17 traditional Language Festivals attracting up to 2-3 thousand people (website of the Language Festival in Cheboksary: http://www.lingvafestivalo.org).
The organizers of the festival compare the acquaintance with the wealth of the language world with a journey during which a discoverer meets a lot of doors to the “neighbor” linguistic worlds outside the native language. The most common structure of language festivals has developed over the past years in Russia and abroad. It includes an inauguration and a day or several days of presentations crowned with a closing ceremony where participants receive diplomas and souvenirs. An integral and pleasant part of an inauguration is "a presentation of presentations" during which participants come to the stage and make an announcement of their presentations. Today more or less traditional format of Language Festival has the form of presentations (mini-lessons), 30-50 minutes each.
As a rule, presentations are held in parallel blocks, which means that every visitor has the opportunity to choose where to go. It is interesting to note that in recent years the format of the event is being enriched as well as the range of languages is being enlarged. This adds up to the festival's greater appeal and reliability of a real international celebration. Today in addition to usual language presentations, festivals include informative lectures on linguistics, so called linguistic “drawing rooms” organized for communication in a particular language, linguistic contests, as well as literary contests devoted to languages, book exhibitions where one can get acquainted with a wide variety of sources in different languages of the world. Besides, festivals may include unique language concerts which arouse much interest of the audience.