THE Balearic government announced yesterday that faced with the current economic restrictions, the budget for Balearic Day celebrations which traditionally run between 26th February and 8th March is going to be cut by a quarter this year, down from 725'000 to 543'000 euros.

Francesc Galvez, Projects director for the Ministry for the President's Office said that although there will be no lavish open air concerts this year, Balearic Fairs and Congresses will make sure that there will be plenty of entertainment by way of craft fairs, exhibitions of organic farming, and a chance for people to participate in sporting and cultural activities.

Galvez said that markets open each day from 26th February to 1st March between 12.30 and 10pm in Plaza de la Drassana and Passeig Sagrera, won't have a mediaeval character this year but instead will give prominence to the cultural and traditional identity of the island. There will be demonstrations of island crafts showing skills which date back centuries, with quality local produce on sale including those which have a guarantee of having been manufactured organically.

Nevertheless one of the most important events taking place during the celebrations will be a forum paying tribute to a gathering of great literary figures which took place on the island 40 years ago. The occasion is entitled “International Congress of 1959, from Cotlliure to Formentor” and has been organised by the State Organisation for Cultural Commemoration. It will be held on Friday and Saturday in the auditorium of the Caixa Forum and on Sunday in the Sa Riera building. Galvez stressed that it will be an occasion open to the public and furthered that one of the activities which will be ongoing, apart from the conferences and talks, is a series of recitals of poetry in homage to national poet Antonio Machado, which will be undertaken by distinguished writers.

The programme of celebrations for Balearic Day will also encompass the island's Gold Medal awards and the Ramon Llull prize-giving, an occasion headed by Balearic president Francesc Antich at 8pm on Friday 27th February, in Palma's Auditorium. The evening will finish with a performance by soloists from the Balearic Symphony Orchestra and by internationally renowned singing artist Concha Buika who was born on Majorca.

Music this year will focus on Catalan pop rock, and that produced by artists in the Balearic Islands including Oprimits, Barrumbada, La Vereda, Grollers, Es Reboster and Anegats. There will be parades by giant figures, performances by Majorcan bagpipe players, and sessions where country storytellers - “glossadors” - relay to an audience how things were on the islands in times gone by when, in an era when few could read or write, there was no other way of handing down history other than by word of mouth.