San Sebastian has been designated as the European Capital of Culture in 2016 by the European Union. Among many other activities, the city wants Puppetry to have a significant presence in the program. This is the reason why the city is competing to host the World Congress of the International Puppetry Association (UNIMA) in 2016, together with Topic from Tolosa and UNIMA’s Spanish Federation. This Congress is organized every 4 years. The designation will be decided in Chengdu (China) between the 27th of May and the 3rd of June, at the celebration of a meeting of puppeteers from all over the world.

TopicTopic’s management team, the International Puppet Centre of Tolosa, and The International Puppet Festival, also in Tolosa, had the idea, forwarded their proposal to the San Sebastian Capital of Culture Organization Commission and to the UNIMA Spanish federation and they’ve had very positive feedback from both. This is a highly relevant project aimed at the joint celebration of the two big events: the cultural capital award for San Sebastian and UNIMA’s hosting of the Congress. In a few days they will be defending their candidacy in Chengdu against Yekaterinburg (Russia) and Oulu (Sweden).

Tolosa already hosted the UNIMA Council in 2006 at the same time as the Titirijai Puppet Festival, and the participants were able to check the organizational ability as well as the deep experience with puppets that this town in Guipuzcoa has. If San Sebastian and Tolosa are chosen to host the World Congress, it will be the first time since its foundation in 1929 for the congress to be held in Spanish speaking towns, the second most spoken language in the world.

Donostia (basque for San Sebastian) would wish to promote cultural and educational values as tools for social change to face the present challenge in Europe during the celebration of the European Capital of Culture in 2016. “The collaboration between DSS2016EU and Topic-Tolosa is developing new story-lines and reinterpreting existing ones to find the moral of the story adapted to the 21st century. We also want to reaffirm our international focus in an effort to spread our voices beyond borders. We want to tell our small stories and big tales and we also want to welcome and hear other captivating and unique stories from all over the world” the members of the Cultural Capital Organization Commission explain.

Congress and World Festival


TOPIC building

The proposal for the Congress contains panels and meetings which will be held in Tolosa, at Topic. The Festival will mainly take place in San Sebastian, which is where most of the participants will be lodged.

The Festival will do its best to program companies from the five continents, opening up new possibilities for emerging companies with fresh ideas and with an open-minded vision of puppetry, without missing the essentials.

Simultaneous programs

The organizational bodies for Donostia 2016, the UNIMA Spanish Federation and Topic-Tolosa, are completely persuaded that an important international event like UNIMA’s World Congress and Festival should not be a program for just a few days, but the opportunity to widen our knowledge of puppetry, to foster a deep understanding of it and to spread the word as much as possible.

Museo Topic
Inside the TOPIC Museum

While considering that the program for San Sebastian as the European Capital of Culture 2016 will include the organization of previous activities related to the social and cultural objectives of the project, we understand that the World Congress and Festival should be the climax of a series of activities throughout the period 2012 to 2016.