Utopia Festival – which brings together more than 100 guests, in various spaces around the city – was born as a strategic event for literary tourism.
In Braga, all literature is a Utopia – this is the motto of the literary festival that, for the first time, transforms the City of Archbishops into Amarout, the capital of the Utopia imagined by Thomas More. Between November 2nd and 12th, an eclectic program will flood different spaces in the city, from Theatro Circo to Capela Imaculada, always with literature as a starting and meeting point. For all age groups and for all tastes, conversations, shows, workshops, sessions in schools and even literary tours are some of the options that will be available to visitors.
Created by The Book Company, Utopia will feature, over 11 days and more than 90 hours of programming, the intervention of more than a hundred guests. The list of confirmed names includes important figures from different cultural and knowledge areas, nationally and internationally. With the theme “Literary Territories”, the event, which aims to expand horizons and become a global reference for events of this nature, wants to promote literary tourism from Braga, creating an identity-based cultural offer that can be replicated internationally. The project is funded by Turismo de Portugal as a national “strategic event”.
In conversation with the great names of contemporary culture
The first day of the festival is marked by the National Reading Plan (PNL) conference – which has, for the first time, a second day of programming outside of Lisbon –, highlighting, in this context, the presence of the Minister of Culture ( Pedro Adão e Silva). At 9:30 pm, in the large auditorium of Theatro Circo, Ricardo Araújo Pereira and Frederico Lourenço will “kick-off” a cycle of conversations, interviews and moments of reflection that will bring together writers, journalists, artists, comedians, thinkers, among many others, around the discussion of the personal and professional path, the creative process and, in general, the issues that intersect in the literary, cultural and artistic panorama.
On Saturday, November 4th, Capela Imaculada will host, from 3 pm, the conversation “The territory of humour”, with the participation of comedian Bruno Nogueira and musician, director and playwright Filipe Melo. The two colleagues and friends, who collaborated on projects such as “Leave Pimba in Peace”, will be challenged to reflect on the borders and limits of humour and the role of “political correctness” in current comedy. At 4 pm the following day, also at Capela Imaculada, writer and chronicler Miguel Esteves Cardoso answers questions from David Pontes, director of the newspaper Público, in a rare life interview.
The second weekend of Utopia is marked by the participation of international authors. On Saturday, November 11th, at 3 pm, English novelist and screenwriter David Mitchell – author of the scripts for films such as “Cloud Atlas”, “Sense8” or “Matrix Resurrections” joins João Tordo and Oliver Balch for a “Conversation at 24 images per second (or a little more)”. The moment will reflect on the transition from script to image and from book to film. At 4:00 pm, in the Espaço Vita auditorium, Ludmilla Ulitskaya, a Russian writer repeatedly identified as a strong candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature and a strong critic of the Putin regime, answers questions from journalist Isabel Lucas. At 6 pm, it’s time for another life interview, conducted by Ana Daniela Soares with Gilles Lipovetsky, French philosopher and theorist of Hypermodernity who is part of the program in an initiative sponsored by the DST business group.
On the 12th – the last day of the first edition of Utopia –, the award-winning Venezuelan novelist Karina Sainz Borgo and the Spanish writer Lluís Plats discuss, from 5 pm onwards, the influence of what moves an author – from an animal to a landscape – on their constructions. Alongside these, Dulce Maria Cardoso, Marta Pais Oliveira, Afonso Cruz, Fernando Ribeiro, Rita Redshoes, João Tordo, José Rodrigues dos Santos, Lídia Jorge and Teolinda Gersão are some of the figures who are also part of the list of names that visitors to the Utopia will be able to listen and know.
Kids and adults discovering literature
In addition to conversations, interview sessions or presentations, the first edition of the literary festival also features a wide range of interactive activities and workshops. One of the most anticipated moments of the program is the workshop “How to write a novel?”, with João Tordo, which challenges more or less experienced authors to perfect the creative process with the guidance of one of the most recognized Portuguese novelists today. The activity, already sold out, will be divided into two parts, taking place on Friday, November 10th, at 6:30 pm, and on Saturday, November 12th, at 10:00 am, at the Lúcio Craveiro da Silva Library.
As a way of associating knowledge of literary heritage with the discovery of local historical heritage, Utopia proposes, in partnership with the Regional Directorate of Culture of the North, a walking tour through the city of Braga, which highlights the work and life of the writer from Braga, Maria Ondina Braga. Ana Araújo, Cândido Oliveira Martins and Isabel Cristina Mateus will be the guides on this tour, which relates the author’s personal and professional journey with the respective spaces. With the Nogueira da Silva Museum as a starting point, the activity takes place on Saturday – November 4th and 11th –, starting at 10 am.
Young readers are not left out. The literary festival program includes activities for all ages and the whole family, designed to introduce young people to reading and writing and to raise awareness, from an early age, of the importance of exercising their imagination through words, written or spoken. During the week, different schools in the municipality will host children’s sessions dedicated to books such as “The Best Friend of Menina República”, “Discover the Bees” or “Avô Minguante”. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, Espaço Vita offers sessions for the little ones, including creative workshops, reading sessions and shows.
Entertainment: the multiple facets of literature
As literature is not only made from the written word, the programming of the first edition of Utopia focuses on moments of leisure that reflect the different aspects and applications of writing and narrative. The Capela Imaculada is the stage chosen for the premiere of “O que a chama illuminated”, an original creation by writer, illustrator and musician Afonso Cruz for the Braga literary festival. Through a multidisciplinary approach – which makes use of different artistic expressions, from words to music, image and dance – this unprecedented written production by the award-winning author addresses personal dramas and civilizational challenges, interweaving a global perspective with stories intimate, of those who face the pain of loss and absence. Ultimately, the show explores the human condition, reflected in literary territory for as long as there is a record. The original production will be presented on Friday, November 3rd at 10 pm and Saturday, November 4th at 9:30 pm.
On Saturday, November 11th, the presence of Brazilian singer Mallu Magalhães is the highlight of the musical program, with the presentation of a show promoted by dst at Theatro Circo, starting at 9:30 pm. Local associations, such as the Bomfim Music Conservatory, also promise to surprise and “give music” to visitors.
Registration is now open – and it’s free
Participation in the different activities and sessions at Utopia is free, but online reservation of a place is mandatory, and each reservation can guarantee up to two places. On the day, in case of delay, there is a five-minute grace period, after which the place will be released to the waiting list to be managed on-site. The complete and updated program can be consulted at festival-utopia.pt, where you can also find the link to register in the session descriptions. Several sessions are already sold out, but Espaço Vita, which concentrates the program from Friday to Sunday, will have a screen installed in its Cloisters to broadcast the sessions taking place in the Chapel and Auditorium.
In addition to participating in the various scheduled moments of the program, visitors are invited to explore one of the four exhibitions that will be permanently at the Galeria do Paço: “Reconstituição”, “Múltiplo Leminski”, “Hachiko”, “100 texts on a journey”. From Friday to Sunday, it will also be possible to visit the area dedicated to the book fair, located in Espaço Vita, to learn about the proposals from Braga’s booksellers.
Utopia Braga 2023 has the Municipality of Braga as its main partner and Turismo de Portugal supports the event, within the scope of Portugal Events. Utopia’s partners and sponsors are: dstgroup, Assembly of the Republic, Imprensa Nacional Casa da Moeda, 5L literary festival (Lisbon City Council), CCDR-Norte, Embassy of Italy, Instituto Ramon Llull, Confiauto, Pingo Doce, McDonald’s Braga, Plano National Reading Festival, Puro Conto Festival/Casa da América Latina, University of Minho, Bomfim Conservatório, DGLAB, Diário do Minho, DRCN, Edigma, Diário do Minho, Espaço Vita, Ent’artes, F3M, Fnac, Caminhos Cruzados, Beer Lyrics, Myrtillus Dei, Porta Nova Collection House, Quiz Braga.
Always confirm with the concert hall or promoter the conditions of access, confirmation of the date or time, ticket place of sale, price, and availability.