Art and culture

Fiesta Mundial!

The project took place in:



Written by Shane Carolan from Ireland

October 2016

The Belen train station was almost empty when I arrived by car. Except for a small group of fresh faced and excited looking characters huddled closely and talking excitedly among each other. I was pleased to find the group to be the volunteers I would live with for the next two weeks. It was a cloudy Sunday with a chill in the air and adventure lingered in the September breeze.

Our accommodation was modern and spacious with a huge well kept garden at the back. The first few days we got to know each other, our backgrounds and experiences both volunteering and in life. We all got along very well as one day turned into another. Everyday we worked hard on setting up the large tents and stages. It was an amazing feeling to see the festival slowly come into realisation. The group helping altogether must have come to around 40 to 50 all working hard with the same vision in mind to build on the successes of the previous year’s festival.


It was exciting to see how a festival was constructed starting on a large empty field. What I learned from non-formal hands on work was invaluable. From planning and organising to creative and cultural exchanges. It was a non-stop immersion into festival life and I loved it. I especially liked the hard laborious work most of the time as it gave me exercise plus time to reflect and think on all aspects of my life.

The group of participants turned out to be an amazing bunch of people who were inspired to help and contribute their own talents and experiences. As the festival weekend arrived I was very excited and also proud to see all of the artists and bands and the creative projects on show. The weather was beautiful throughout and it was lovely to see the children run and laugh with their parents as festival artists and performers played music.

At night the atmosphere was more intimate and people talked and listened to the music while enjoying beverages and the wide array of food stalls. I met some amazing people while I was there, a peace loving Greek man who played guitar, an enthusiastic young woman with dreadlocks who drove a sleep in van not to dissimilar to the one in the Scooby Doo cartoons and so many more inspiring, creative and compassionate people.


The festival flew by so fast and I was happy to see everyone chat and laugh, sing and play guitar or dance during the free time we had. I will try to be back again next year as the uniqueness and energy of Fiesta Mundial was one I have not encountered before. The remaining days after the festival we toured some of the famous cities in Belgium visiting Antwerp, Bruges, Gent and Brussels, laughing, exploring, sightseeing and drinking along the way. It was a labour of love and an experience I will remember with a warm hearted smile.

Shane Carolan from Ireland, lead a workcamp with VIA Belgium as part of his EVS project at the International Secretariat of SCI.