K afe Antzokia opened its door on 15th December, 1995 in what had been San Vicente cinema. As well as completely restoring the building, the seats were taken out and it became a general purpose hall. The project came from the reflections of some Basque language teachers. Their pupils had very few opportunities in Bilbao to use Basque outside the classroom and, in order for the learning process to move forward, the teachers believed that places and times for using Basque in leisure time and in normal relationships were necessary.
It also had the objective of offering the thousands of Basque speakers scattered around Bilbao, and without any physical reference point, a meeting place where they could use their language in a natural way; people for whom Basque was their mother tongue, people who had learnt it as adults and people who were still learning it could meet there and build a strong language community. So it was with those aims that Kafe Antzokia set off, self-financing becoming viable thanks to its catering project. Wishing to be central, the project was set in the middle of Bilbao.
At Kafe Antzokia there are activities at all times of day, from early morning to the early hours.
The activity over all these years has made Kafe Antzokia the point of reference it aimed to become: a well-known, open point of reference for Basque speakers from Bilbao and elsewhere. Many different events take place on different days and at different times.
With regards to live music, Kafe Antzokia is the most important stage in Bilbao. Most Basque musicians have played at Kafe Antzokia, as have hundreds of foreign groups and solo artists. Kafe Antzokia is well-known outside Bilbao too. Having unusual characteristics, artists particularly enjoying playing there and fans come from great distances to enjoy the varied programme offered.
The Kafe Antzokia kitchen produces around 200 lunches every day. Our chefs make balanced, delicious menus and at midday the tables in the hall-come-restaurant fill up. People have lunch on the stage where, just the night before, artists have played, and there is something magical about that. It is one of a kind in Bilbao.
Without overlooking the weekend night-life: many languages and types of music have a place in Kafe Antzokia’s wide musical offer, which is always far from mainstream formulas. Basque music, too, is well represented in a natural way, making up a unique musical offer in Bilbao.
Thanks to Kafe Antzokia, and led by Zenbat Gara Association, many different activities to encourage the use of Basque are carried out. Bilbo Hiria radio station, which broadcasts in Basque throughout Bilbao, is helped by Kafe Antzokia and has its studios above the concert hall. Bilbo Hiria is a station which broadcasts exclusively in Basque throughout the Bilbao area; its programmes are varied and interesting. And, in the same building, Gabriel Aresti Basque school has its headquarters. It is the biggest Basque school in the Basque Country and it, too, is connected with Zenbat Gara Association; many conferences, workshops and festivities are held there.
Zenbat Gara Association organizes many regular events at Kafe Antzokia:
- Lagun Artean Kantari song sessions are friendly events at which old and new Basque songs are sung by whomever wishes to join in.
- Urbeltzen Dantza Ganbara is an open, participative Basque dance session led by the famous folk expert Juan Antonio Urbeltz.
- Kurkuluxetan Umegunea is a project which offers children an enormous number of activities: Olgetan children’s party every Sunday afternoon; the dramatic arts school (dance, music and theatre school); Ane Monna, Oskola eta Karramarroi theatre group; producing CDs and DVDs for children; summer camps…
So there are events taking place at Kafe Antzokia at all times every day. If you have not yet paid us a visit, please come and we will welcome you with open arms.
Welcome to the Basque city!