World’s Children Meet in Konya

Declared by the Turkish Parliament on April 23, 1920, National Sovereignty and Children’s Day has been bringing the world’s children together since 1979. Turkish radio and television is holding this year’s festival in Konya, whose name is synonymous with that of Rumi.

The inauguration of the Turkish Grand National Assembly on April 23, 1920, was declared a holiday for the nation’s children and future parliamentarians of Turkey. Not content with this being a holiday only for Turkish children, Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) began sharing it with the children of the world as the International April 23rd Children’s Festival in 1979, declared by the United Nations the International Year of the Child. With participation by children from only 5 countries in 1979, the festival in time spread and expanded. Today it has been transformed into a major holiday with participation of children from around 50 countries on average each year.

The festival, for children aged 8 to 14, runs from April 16 to 25. An average of 20 children from each participating country are guests in the homes of primary school pupils of the same age in the city where the festival is held, giving them an opportunity to enjoy genuine Turkish family hospitality one on one. The visiting children are received by the President of Turkey, the Speaker of Parliament, the Prime Minister and the Director of Turkish State Radio and Television at the events, which kick off with the Festival Walk. An extensive 3-4 hour gala is being held on April 23 when each country will present a show reflecting its own culture and traditions.

Excursions and picnics on the 24th and 25th of the month are meant as pleasant opportunities for the children to bond even further and leave with fond memories of Turkey. On April 23, 2012, some 600 children are going to convey messages of peace and brotherhood from Konya to the entire world through the shows they have been rehearsing for months.