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29th Linzer Pflasterspektakel: 23. - 25. July 2015
Archive Archive

Pflasterspektakel July 22nd - 24th 1999

The last Pflasterspektakel of the 20th century was expanded by ten new locations in the old quarter (Altstadt) and on the newly opened Arenaplatz. The festival’s history had seen many attempts made to ease congestion on the crowded area from the Hauptplatz to Landstraße by introducing additional locations. Herrenstraße had proved unsuitable, and the idea of expanding across the Nibelungen Bridge towards Urfahr was never even tried. But the Altstadt, on the other hand, established itself with great success as a particularly attractive zone in a historical setting. So once again, for three days from 12 noon to 12 midnight, visitors could once again flock to the Pflasterspektakel.

But this year, the weather really tried to put a damper on things. The summer in Linz was more like late autumn, damp and cloudy. This explains why on the first day only 20,000 visitors were to be found in the city center. Although the Friday was rainy their number nevertheless increased to 60,000, before on Saturday, which was dry, an unbelievable 100,000 enthusiastic spectators were counted. Project manager Christian Denkmaier and cultural manager Siegbert Janko were, however, more delighted with the standard of the artistes, which they described as “outstanding”.

And not only that:
The children proved tougher than everyone else as they went right ahead and took part in all the activities in Landhauspark, paying no attention at all to the rain.


Pflasterspektakel July 23rd - 25th 1998

“Without doubt the best event that Linz has ever organized,” wrote the Oberösterreichische Nachrichten about the 12th Pflasterspektakel. “On Thursday evening many visitors to the Linz Pflasterspektakel must have felt as if they were caught in the rush-hour in Tokyo, so tightly packed were the crowds along Landstraße,” the article continued.

Once again, around 100 members of staff were on duty to ensure that the thousands of spectators were well looked after. Easily recognizable in their Pflasterspektakel straw hats they handed out the programs for each day and manned the info-points in the city center to deal with any queries and wishes.

Even without the prospect of receiving a fee for their performances, the world’s best street entertainers were still keen to take part. One of the secrets of the Pflasterspektakel’s success is the fact that the city itself, the organizational team and the level of audience appreciation all combine to make the festival an extremely enjoyable experience for the artistes.

One by now traditional “feel-good factor” is the Kunstuniversität, the college of art, on the Hauptplatz, which since 1989 has served as the festival headquarters and the place where all the performers can meet and mingle in a relaxed atmosphere. But the Jahnschule in Urfahr, where the majority of the performers, and especially the samba groups, are accommodated in the gyms and classrooms and are well looked after by the school janitor Werner Reischl, has also achieved cult status.

Pflasterspektakel July 17th - 19th 1997

Following the incredible record number of 220,000 visitors in anniversary year 1996, 1997 was further proof that every year the number of artistes wishing to take part in the festival exceeds the number of possible performances. From the 1,800 performers who applied only 500 could actually present their talents in Linz, the city with the reputation of donating extremely generously to street entertainers.

But it is not just this generosity that has given Linz such a good name among street artistes: they also enjoy the city’s charm and the high standards of art and culture it promotes. It is particularly pleasing to note that since the festival’s inception the number of regular visitors has steadily increased – and time and again we hear of families who even arrange their summer holidays around the Pflasterspektakel.

This year there was entertainment, singing and dancing at 37 locations. Radio Oberösterreich, the festival’s principal media partner, was represented for the first time with its own stage on Taubenmarkt, with an MC and live interviews with the performers. Eight samba groups provided hot street rhythms that reached their climax with a samba session from 7 p.m. every day on the Alter Markt.

And not only that:
This year saw the first wedding to take place during the Pflasterspektakel: the mime Martin from Hamburg met the Hungarian artiste Romanis at the 1994 Pflasterspektakel and in 1997 they married in Schlosspark. Immediately after the ceremony they put on a show, still dressed as bride and groom, as the “Kopfstein Comedy Company”, for which the audience showed its appreciation by spontaneously cracking open a few bottles of champagne.

Pflasterspektakel July 18th - 20th 1996

10 years of the Linz Pflasterspektakel! This year, a large-format booklet was produced that not only contained information on the more than 500 performers from 30 countries but also provided a look back on the amazing success story of this international festival of street art.

Siegbert Janko, cultural manager of the City of Linz and initiator of the Pflasterspektakel, wrote in his foreword: “Ten years ago we had the dream of a colorful, lively festival. Today, once a year, Linz becomes the European center of street art, a Woodstock for street entertainers who come to us from all over the world and fill our city with riotous magic and original images. And it seems as if the merriment and gaiety reach new heights every year; the Linz Pflasterspektakel is like Christmas in summer, a fabulous celebration for the senses.”

An exhibition of photos in the art college showed the highlights of the last ten years, while the art of sculpture was represented at the festival for the first time by sand sculptures on the Hauptplatz. Another innovation this year was the children’s activities by Landhauspark, which immediately became a classic and provided fun, games and excitement in the following years.

And not only that:
The Hooligan Ballet from England commented: “In our careers the memory of Linz stands for the true spirit of live entertainment and continues to inspire us.”


Pflasterspektakel July 20th - 22nd 1995

For reasons of space the festival was once again limited to 400 performers from 25 countries. Even though almost 500 applications had to be rejected Linz was now undeniably established as the European center of street entertainment even ahead of cities like Barcelona.

For the first time, the Pflasterspektakel was able to stage performances from 9 a.m. to 12 midnight between Schillerplatz and Donaulände. The cultural affairs department had succeeded in obtaining a special license from the police allowing the Pflasterspektakel to continue until midnight. This was possible only because the festival had always been a peaceful occasion free of disturbances despite the huge numbers of people it attracted.

The city’s transport company once again provided a replacement bus service from 7 p.m. between Blumau and Sonnensteinstraße. Before the buses replaced the trams, special stewards with colorfully designed one-meter long sticks patrolled Landstraße and carefully “herded” the general public away from the tramlines whenever a tram was approaching. These aides have been known in Linz as “Menschenschieber” (“people-pushers”) ever since. They were an important invention too, because never before had the Linz Pflasterspektakel got off to such a fantastic start: on the opening evening alone, more than 60,000 spectators thronged the streets.

And not only that:
On the left bank of the River Danube a music ship docked during the festival and offered a composition by Helmut Lutz featuring brass instruments, characters and a tightrope act for the enjoyment of interested spectators.


Pflasterspektakel July 21st - 23rd 1994

This year was the first time that over 100 groups with 400 artistes from 20 countries performed at the Linz Pflasterspektakel. The often imaginative spelling of the word “Pflasterspektakel” seen on the many international applications that reached the cultural affairs department in Linz had often caused gales of laughter and this year they gave the organizational team the idea of portraying “Pflasterspektakel” in pictures. A humorous sticker depicting “Pflaster” (cobbles/a plaster) “Speck” (bacon) and a “Dackel” (Dachshund) was produced to advertise the summer event around the city.

As was now traditional, the world of music was most prominently represented with 35 groups taking part. But increasingly it was the great and colorful diversity of types of street entertainment and the superb standard of the performances that was emerging as the festival’s most distinctive characteristic; and this is what sets it apart from similar festivals to this day.

The sheer variety of forms of expression often requires equally varied performance conditions. It is for this reason that as the festival developed the organizational team introduced measures to remove the “competitive edge” among the groups that would otherwise vie with each other for the audience’s attention. So since this time the order in which groups can choose their locations and time slots has been decided by the random selection of numbers. Fairness and solidarity between all those taking part have made the Pflasterspektakel a true cultural crossroads.

It also underscores the new self-perception that Linz, a former center of industry, has achieved for itself; otherwise, how can more than 200,000 visitors be explained, even taking into account the marvelous luck the festival has had with the weather?

Pflasterspektakel July 22nd - 24th 1993

Along Landstraße, on the Alter Markt and, for the first time, in the newly opened Taubenmarkt arcade 420 street entertainers from over 17 countries put their talents on display.

The Pflasterspektakel has now turned into an important economic factor for businesses in the center of Linz. The catering trade was naturally also keen to reap the benefits, but found itself in trouble with the local authorities after setting up stands along Landstraße for which no permit had been issued. After the Pflasterspektakel, intensive discussions were held that went on for weeks, but in the end the situation was clarified for the coming years. Thanks to information and communication, clear decision-making processes and clearly defined overall conditions it has been possible to stave off several attempts made in the course of the festival’s history to “monopolize” it or exploit it for commercial gain.

It remains important for both culture and politics to protect this aspect of the festival, which is crucial to its success and ensures that the organization of the Pflasterspektakel concentrates solely on live street entertainment and its enthusiastic audiences! This was the first year that the weather gods were not in a party mood, and it rained. Interestingly, the result of the inclement weather was a new record number of visitors, 200,000, because many people who would otherwise have gone swimming decided to go into town and have a cultural session instead.

And not only that:
Conjurers, entertainers, clowns and jugglers from Australia were on the bill for the first time.


Pflasterspektakel July 23rd - 25th 1992

The festival folder had the following piece of information for the culture fans in Linz: “Because the nature of street entertainment makes it impossible to arrange an exact running order beforehand, the wishes regarding performing times will be coordinated on the festival day itself.”

From the very beginning, the arranging of the program by the performers themselves has been central to the festival. It is not the festival organizers who decide when and where the artistes will perform, but the groups themselves who choose their preferred locations and time slots in the morning of each day of the festival.

350 artistes performed at 20 locations along Landstraße. The band “Kollana” conjured up a holiday atmosphere with their Bolivian music on a sunny afternoon; Ninny the clown drew laughs as a comical orchestra conductor; the young trio the “Eferdinger Chefpartie” bawled out evergreens; a fire-eater from the Swiss group “Payazzo” ate fire; and a barrel organ accompanied a Punch and Judy show for the little ones.

The Pflasterspektakel is one of the few festivals of street art that provides suitable alternatives in the event of persistent rain. In 1992 a number of bars, restaurants, shopping malls and arcades served as wet weather locations for the first time. But following the damp start the audience, performers and organizers were once again able to enjoy one of the most successful festivals in the history of the Pflasterspektakel.



Pflasterspektakel July 18th - 20th 1991

The Linz Pflasterspektakel was already establishing itself as a European center of street entertainment. The increasing importance and size of the event was accompanied by ever greater expectations and a desire for higher standards – not least because of the tremendous interest shown by the general public. The improvised gathering of street entertainers of the first years finally came of age, and in the 1990s it gradually evolved into one of the most prestigious large-scale events in Linz.

Numerous new developments, many of which remained one-off experiments, were heralds of a growing effort to improve the services offered to both the audience and the performers. As an example, the program for the particular day was no longer only available on the notice board in the information office in the art college on the Hauptplatz; in 1991 a Pflasterspektakel hotline was set up to provide information of the acts on offer.

Because in the previous year the festival had all but outgrown Linz city center the number of performers was limited to 300, which, as it turned out, was no help. Yet another record of 200,000 visitors was achieved. The Pflasterspektakel was more international than ever before, featuring in particular artistes from the former Eastern bloc countries who were able to display their top-class talents in the first year following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

And not only that:
For the first time, the trams were replaced by buses from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on all three days of the festival.


Pflasterspektakel July 19th - 21st 1990

While the Pflasterspektakel was celebrating its fourth birthday, Linz was celebrating a landmark anniversary: the whole year was punctuated by events marking 500 years of the provincial capital.

Since the number of people participating either actively or passively in the Pflasterspektakel had increased dramatically, with 335 performers being watched by 150,000 spectators, the festival was extended to Schillerpark and into Herrenstraße and the old quarter (Altstadt). However, it turned out to be not at all easy to lure the visitors away from the action taking place from the Hauptplatz to Landstraße. On the other hand, a large number of workshops offering instruction in acrobatics and free dance, conjuring, juggling, mime, African dance and puppet-making for children proved huge hits with the people of Linz.

Some of the participants were even brave enough to display their newly acquired talents there and then in front of the Pflasterspektakel audience. The experiment of putting together a Linz samba band was also a great success, and the group, named “Guarana”, often featured on the Pflasterspektakel bill in the following years. Apart from the workshops that anyone could join in, other innovations this year were a Pflasterspektakel gallery in an old tram coach on the Hauptplatz and activities for children in the old quarter, which attracted a great many young visitors. In absolutely fantastic weather, Linz had now firmly established itself as a Mecca for street entertainment.

And not only that:
Christine Rosenfellner from Traun was elected the first (and only) Miss Pflasterspektakel!