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EAB News 2011-07-23 to 30: 96th World Esperanto Congress

96th World Esperanto Congress

The opening ceremony of the World Esperanto Congress is normally a festive affair, and a highlight is the presentation of greetings by representatives from each of the countries present. But this year's opening ceremony in Copenhagen, Denmark, coming just one day after the Oslo and Utoeya attacks in nearby Norway, was more sober; it opened with a minute's silence in memory of the victims, and when the Norwegian delegate made an emotional address to the congress about the need for mutual understanding and tolerance so central to the idea of Esperanto, she received a standing ovation of several minutes. She was among around 1450 Esperanto-speakers from 66 countries, including around 30 British esperantists, who attended the event.

Congress logo Hilary Chapman
Opening ceremony musical interlude; British Esperantist Hilary Chapman greets the congress on behalf of Esperanto-Asocio de Brito.

Esperanto flag half-mast flag
The Esperanto flag at the congress venue in Copenhagen; Elsewhere flags are at half-mast throughout Denmark.

As usual, the congress provided a rich programme of talks, lectures, concerts, plays and films - all conducted through the medium of Esperanto. Beside all the scheduled events, there were plenty of informal occasions for old friends and new to meet and chat.

Paul Gubbins lectures Gossip
British Esperantist Paul Gubbins leads a workshop on writing for the press; Opportunities to meet and chat.

Viking lecture Smartphones
a lecture on the Vikings; a discussion on Smartphones and their Esperanto applications.

The Tivoli Pantomime The Greenland Chorus
An evening of national culture at the Tivoli Gardens includes the Tivoli Pantomime (ballet) and the Greenland Chorus.

Ĵomart kaj Nataŝa Espo-Despo
A variety of concerts and performances, including Ĵomart kaj Nataŝ and Espo-Despo....

Kimo Akademio de Esperanto
... and musical comedy including tuba and beat-boxing from Kimo and friends; the Esperanto Academy answer questions about the using language.

The congress programme also included many opportunities to visit Copenhagen and other attractions in the local area - all with commentary from local guides, translated into Esperanto. The Copenhagen weather during the congress week wasn't too suitable for sight-seeing, but we were fortunate to enjoy sunshine on Wednesday, the day reserved for all-day excursions.

Amalienborg palace Boat trip
Visiting Amalienborg palace in the rain; a boat trip around Copenhagen harbour and canals.

Carlsberg brewery Carlsberg brewery
Excursions to the Carlsberg Brewery museum.

Roskidle Viking ship museum Little Mermaid
(On our one sunny day!) exploring the Viking ship museum at Roskilde; the famous Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen harbour.


This was the 96th World Esperanto Congress in a series which started in 1905 and has taken place each year, interrupted only by the two world wars. At these events, Esperantists participate in a rich programme of talks, lectures, concerts, plays and excursions, all conducted in Esperanto, and all without the need for translators or interpreters (apart from an occasional concession to the few visiting dignitaries who haven't mastered the language). For many Esperantists, the real highlight of the event is simply to meet face-to-face and chat directly with people from across the world, without having to learn their many national languages, and without imposing our own national language and culture on them.

Each year's congress is organised by Esperantists in the hosting country and the Universala Esperanto-Asocio [World-wide Esperanto Association]. Some previous congresses have taken place in Britain; in 1907 (Cambridge), 1926 (Edinburgh), 1930 (Oxford), 1938 (London), 1949 (Bournemouth), 1961 (Harrogate), 1971 (London) and 1989 (Brighton). Future congresses will be in (2012) Hanoi, Vietnam and (2013) Reykjavik, Iceland.

Report and photos by Vilĉjo Walker

World Congress

Press release from

During the week from July 23 through July 30, 2011, the 96th Universal Esperanto Congress took place in Denmark's capital city, Copenhagen.

Over a thousand Esperanto speakers from many different countries participated in the congress, during which they discussed the congress' main theme: "Dialogue and mutual understanding", as well as taking part in a wide range of different meetings, workshops and conferences within a cultural programmme entirely in the International Language.

The event is unusual among most international conferences because participants communicated with each other without interpreters by using the international, neutral language of Esperanto.

This language is 124 years old, has its own culture. Tens of thousands of books and magazines, television and radio programs have been made public in Esperanto.

The language is now self-sufficient and quite alive. Esperanto continues to evolve and the number of speakers steadily grows.

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