About Us

The festival 2018-10-14T01:40:20+00:00

Why a folk music festival?

The Aitzina Folk Solidarity Festival, which this year celebrates its sixth edition in Vitoria-Gasteiz, has walked
united from its origin to a double mission: the diffusion of folk, with music, dance and workshops, and the support to the
struggle to investigate a rare disease called ataxia telangiectasia.

Until this year, Aefat, the association that groups together the families affected in the State, was aware of the existence of only one affected child in the Basque Country: Jon, 15, from Vitoria-Gasteiz. His father, Patxi Villén, president of the association and a musician fond of folk, created this festival together with family and friends, to give visibility to the disease and raise funds to seek a cure. But this year another child, in this case two years old, has been diagnosed in the municipality of Amurrio. For them and for the rest of those affected, some 30 in Spain, this festival continues its journey with a firm step (Aitzina means forward in Basque…).


Our history

So Vitoria-Gasteiz will once again be filled with folk and solidarity in November and December thanks to the 18 activities, many of them free of charge, for all audiences, programmed by the Aitzina Folk Festival, which will be held in different parts of the city.

A multicultural festival already consolidated, which is being surpassed year after year, which shows traditional music and local folk but also other areas, international groups, ancient instruments, traditional dances, participation of schools, workshops, kalejiras, talks and above all, very good atmosphere. An option to enjoy quality folk, also highlighting the female role in its section “Women in Folk”, and without forgetting its objective: to raise funds to investigate ataxia telangiectasia, a rare disease, genetic and neurodegenerative that still has no cure, and affecting about 30 children and young people in the State, including two in Euskadi.

More than 60 groups and artists have already passed through the different stages of the festival in the five previous editions, more than 16,000 spectators and more than 85,000 euros have been raised to investigate ataxia telangiectasia (AT). In previous editions, concerts such as those by Carlos Nuñez, Benito Lertxundi, Oskorri, Kepa Junkera, Ana Alcaide, Luar Na Lubre or Titiriteros de Binéfar have managed to put up the “sold out” sign.

I want to help

What is ataxia-telangectasia (AT)?

Ataxia-telangiectasia, or “A-T,” is a progressive, degenerative disease that affects a startling variety of body systems. The first signs of the disease usually appear early in childhood (the toddler stage), when children begin to walk. Though they usually start walking at a normal age, they wobble or sway when walking, standing still or sitting. In late pre-school and early school age, children with A-T develop difficulty moving the eyes in a natural manner from one place to the next, and they develop slurred or distorted speech, and swallowing problems.


The onset of this ataxia marks the beginning of progressive degeneration of a part of the brain, known as the cerebellum, that gradually leads to a general lack of muscle control, and eventually confines the patient to a wheelchair. Because of the worsening ataxia, children with A-T lose their ability to write, and speech also becomes slowed and slurred. Even reading eventually becomes impossible as eye movements become difficult to control.


For most (about 70 percent) of children with A-T there is another clinical hallmark: immunodeficiency that usually brings recurrent respiratory infections. In many patients, these infections can become life threatening. Because of deficient levels of immunoglobulins (IgG, IgA, IgM or IgG subclasses), the natural infection fighting agents in the blood, children with A-T are highly susceptible to lung infections that do not respond to typical antibiotic treatments. For these A-T patients, the combination of a weakened immune system and the progressive ataxia can ultimately lead to pneumonia as a common cause of death.


Children with A-T tend to develop malignancies of the blood system almost 1,000 times more frequently than the general population. Lymphoma and leukemia are particularly common types of cancer, although the frequencies of most cancers are elevated. Ironically, another facet of the disease is an extreme sensitivity to radiation, which means that A-T patients cannot tolerate the standard levels of therapeutic radiation or radiomimetic drugs (chemotherapy drugs that work in a way that is similar to radiation therapy) usually given to cancer patients.


Other features of ataxia-telangiectasia that may affect some children are: diabetes mellitus, premature graying of the hair, difficulty swallowing causing choking and/or drooling and slowed growth. Even though A-T is a multi-system disorder, most individuals with A-T are very socially aware and socially skilled.

mine of information: ATCP Children Project. www.atcp.org