Nesri Festival in Zaghouan celebrates local culture and customs

Photo credit goes to AbdelMajid Thabet

The rosehip (Nesri) Festival in Zagouan, Tunisia, has a rich and deep history going back many years. This traditional event celebrates local culture and customs, highlighting the rosehip as a symbol of fertility and happiness. The locals gather to perpetuate this age-old tradition every year and put on an unforgettable show for visitors.

The Ennesri Festival in Zagouan was launched several decades ago to preserve the region’s cultural heritage. Initiated by a group of passionate locals, this festive event quickly became a not-to-be-missed event for the local community and tourists alike. Since its inception, the festival has continued to grow and develop, offering a rich programme of traditional activities and entertainment every year.  The meeting with the press for the 38th edition of the Nesri Festival in Zaghouan held on Friday 17 May 2024, was attended by several regional and national journalists.

This edition will take place from June 1 to 9, 2024, with the support of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, the Regional Commissariat for Cultural Affairs in Zaghouan, the National Establishment for the Promotion of Festivals and Cultural and Artistic Events, the Governorate of Zaghouan, the Municipality of Zaghouan and several organisations, institutions and companies as sponsors. This year’s edition of the festival has seen a new dynamic reflecting a new vision, which has manifested itself through scheduling various events on the fringes of the festival, starting with the scientific symposium organised in partnership with the History Department of the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences in Sousse on May 3 and 4, 2024.

More than thirty doctors, professors and specialist researchers from Tunisian universities and scientific institutions such as the University of Sousse, the University of Tunis, the University of Manouba, the University of Sfax, the University of Jendouba, the National Heritage Institute and foreign universities such as the University of Barcelona and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) took part in this symposium.

Before the launch of this edition, the festival was keen to reorganise the town’s commercial exhibition, which has been running since May 7th and will continue until May 20th 2024, in the presence of numerous exhibitors in partnership with UTICA Zaghouan.  

This year’s festival will include many distinctive and diverse cultural, artistic and sporting activities and shows that will showcase Zaghouan and its rich cultural heritage.   The festival will strive to support the region’s sustainable development tributaries by promoting culinary tourism as an important tourist attraction and cultural product that serves as a showcase for the community’s identity and culture, as part of the “Zaghouan, a city on the rise” initiative.

To this end, a culinary day will be staged, featuring cooking shows by well-known names in the culinary field, in addition to the presentation of traditional local dishes from Zaghouan’s food heritage, accompanied by tasting sessions and training workshops for innovative Nesri-based recipes. Theatre and cinema will also figure prominently in this year’s event, with the Nostalgica evening screening Ibrahim Babay’s film “et demain”, shot in Zaghouan in the presence of a group of filmmakers and artists, and Karim Gharbi’s one-man show VISA.

Sports activities are central to the festival’s programme, with various sports tournaments to be organised, as well as distinctive musical performances, such as the “Stars of Zaghouan” evening at the water temple, with the participation of artists Sofiane Zaidi, Asmaa Ben Ahmed, Nadhir El Bouab and Ahmed Al-Latif, and an artistic show entitled “Tsaltina” by artist Seifeddine Tebbini.

On top of Zaghouan Mountain Day, which includes a camping evening with artists Yasser Jaradi and Ahmed Cherif, and Sports Tourism and Mountain Activities Day in Sidi Medyen in cooperation with the Zaghouan Tourism Federation, there is also the Tounes Wijhetouna programme, financed by the European Union in Tunisia, which aims to support the diversification of Tunisia’s tourism offering through the development of sustainable tourism, support for the crafts and design sector, and the promotion of cultural heritage.

A seminar will be held on the theme of “community-based companies and the dynamism of local specificities, the example of the rosehip”. The festival will also be open to children, with a day of entertainment in the medina of Zaghouan, including various artistic workshops, multi-dimensional cinema sessions and activities linked to digital culture and virtual reality, in cooperation with the Zaghouan Cultural Complex.

The festival will close with a musical performance by artist Esmaan Shaari, featuring the talented voice of Bechir Souli, as well as a unique fashion show combining traditional and modern fashions.  The festival aims to highlight Zaghouan’s local characteristics and preserve its tangible and intangible heritage.

This annual event, expected to welcome visitors as usual, is an important recreational space for the region’s inhabitants, where their customs and traditions will be revived and the town’s cultural, tourist, economic and commercial life revitalised.

It is also an opportunity for visitors to enjoy a stay in the beautiful town with Roman and Andalusian origins, which is preserving its rich heritage and striving to transform it into a means of driving development. Created by the municipality of Zaghouan in May 1980, the Nisri Festival is an opportunity to celebrate and promote the flower. Since 2014, it has been organised by the Zaghouan Ennsri Festival Association (AFEZ), which aims to pursue several targets, including the development of the festival, its globalisation and the inclusion of other skills in the national intangible heritage inventory.

The city of Zaghouan is known for its roses, especially the rosehip. Rosehip flower water (nesri) is used to flavor pastries such as baklava, especially kâak warka with nesri whose recipe passed down from mother to daughter is a culinary celebrity in the city.

TunisianMonitorOnline (NejiMed)

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