What You'll Find On This Page
Top 5 Bulgarian Festivals You Need To Check Out
Written by Travel Writer Bilyana
Bulgaria is a country with rich culture and unique traditions. Bulgarians are very proud of them, and they have been passed from generation to generation for years. From chasing evil spirits away to barefoot dances on smoldering embers, Bulgarian traditions showcased at these festivals in Bulgaria will leave you feeling ‘’WOW’’, and it is a guarantee that they will put a smile on your face.
Bulgarian Festival #1: Rose Festival
Bulgaria is famous for its roses. The country is one of the biggest producers of rose oil in the whole world. The Bulgarian ‘’attar’’ of roses is a major component in the perfumery business throughout the world. It is also used in the space industry, as a greasing component in space equipment, due to its resistance to temperature changes.
The Rose Festival is held in Kazanlak, which is part of the Rose Valley and is held every year, during the first weekend in June. The festival was first celebrated in 1903, since then it has been kept going by generations of enterprising people from the valley.Nowadays the festival has become an international event, visited by thousands of people, both locals and tourists. Three events during the festival are must
Nowadays the festival has become an international event, visited by thousands of people, both locals and tourists. Three events during the festival are a must-visit: the parade along the streets of the town, the election of Queen Rose, and the early morning ritual in the rose fields. You can also visit the Museum of Roses in Kazanlak.
Bulgarian Festival #2: Nestinarstvo
Nestinarstvoto, which is fire dancing, is one of the oldest Bulgarian traditions. In the past, it was practiced in Thrace, and today is preserved only in three villages in the Strandzha Mountain – Bulgari, Brodilovo, and Kosti. According to some researchers, the ritual roots lay in Bulgaria’s pagan past and is derived from the cult of the Sun in the Thracians.
The day of the ritual starts with a dressing of fire-icons. Then with the procession, which includes the whole village, icons refer to the holy spring of St. Constantine, where the ritual washing of the stalk is conducted. After sunset, the people would build up a massive fire and dance traditional Bulgarian dance (Horo) until the fire dies and only embers remain. After that, the culmination of the tradition begins. Nestinari in a state of trance enter the circle with shouts, and the first one crosses the embers of the cross, and then the others
Nestinari who are now a state of trance enter the ring of fire with shouts, and the first one crosses the embers, and then the other Nestinari enter the circle. It is believed that due to being in a state of trance they don’t don’t feel the pain from the raging fire.
The festival is included in the UNESCO list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Today the ritual is best preserved in the village of Bulgari in Strandzha Mountain and is held every year on 3 June.
Bulgarian Festival #3: Surva
The International Festival of Masquerade Games ‘’Surva’’ in Pernik is the biggest one in Bulgaria and the Balkans, and it’s one of the greatest performances of traditional folk games and customs with masks in the world.
In the past, the ‘mummers’ are dressed with a mix of male and female clothes and scary masks. They hang from themselves bells and cowbells, they carry swords or sticks to scare away the barren winter and the evil spirits. Nowadays the festival is a joyful celebration which aims to recreate the past and to bring joy and fun to people. The festival is held every year on the last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of January.
The festival is held annually on the last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of January. Traditionally the festival involves about 6000 people from over 100 masquerade groups from all Bulgarian regions. People come to participate for the emotion and the fun.
Bulgarian Festival #4: Rozhen Festival
Rozhen National Folklore Festival showcases Bulgarian folklore and livestock. It’s performed on the meadows of Rozhen Pass, near Rozhen peak in Rhodopes Mountain. The goal of the festival is to popularize the Bulgarian folk dances and song art.
The fair presents the Bulgarian folk music, customs, dances, clothing, costumes, and rituals. Traditionally the fair begins with the Бела съм бела юначе (Bela sam bela yunache) song, the unofficial anthem of the Rhodopes Mountain. The festival is held for 2-3 days in August.
Bulgarian Festival #5: Zheravna National Costume Festival
Zheravna is a village in the southeast part of Bulgaria. Every year since 2008 the village held the National Festival of Folk Costumes.
The participation in the festival is a voluntary act and those who want to join it have to respect its rules. The main rule is to be dressed in folk costume. It is forbidden to use some objects from the modern life. The use of a mobile phone is allowed only in the calling areas. The purpose of these rules is to strive to appreciate the day-to-day life of Bulgarians some 100-150 years ago.
Traditionally the festival is held for three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) on the last weekend of August.
A bonus festival (my favorite)
Bonus Festival in Bulgaria: The Blueberry Festival
This Bulgarian festival is not at all famous, but I wanted to included it because it’s my favorite one. The festival is held high in the mountain at the beautiful Stara Planina, and more specifically in the Ambaritsa hut. This festival is a three-day program with a lot of music, games, fun, and of course as the name suggests it involves blueberries. (and the mekitsi ever). I went to the festival last year as a volunteer for one week. I meet a lot of awesome people and had a fabulous time.
The dates for this year’s one are not announced yet, so follow them on Facebook for up to date information.
Other festivals in Bulgaria you may like:
- Cherry Festival in Kyustendil
- International Bagpipe Contest in Gela
- Varna Day
- Humour Carnival in Gabrovo
Are you going to consider joining one of these festivals in Bulgaria? If so, which one will it be?
These Bulgarian festivals are just one of the reasons to visit the country. Bulgaria is an amazing place with so many places worth visiting. If you ask me when is the right time to visit Bulgaria, well, my answer would be NOW!
Bilyana is a travel blogger, mountain lover, and full-time dream chaser. She follows her dreams and wants you to do the same. Her goal is to help you to travel more & worry less and inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and see this beautiful world we live in one adventure at a time. You can follow her adventures on her blog Owl Over The World, Pinterest, and Facebook.
Main Photo: Festival of Authentic Folklore in Dorkovo