Travel

The ultimate guide to Festivals in Bulgaria

Bulgaria is a must-visit country for every festival addict. No matter when, no matter where you decide to go, there will be a festival or а local feast planned for sure. However, I am going to make a list of the most popular Festivals organized on an annual basis.

I am going to start with Apolonia, an art festival organized in the picturesque city of Sozopol at the end of August every year. The festival was established for the first time more than 30 years ago and is named after the greek god Apollo recognized as a god of music, healing, the sun and light, plague, poetry, and arts in general. Taking part in the festivities is the perfect occasion to visit the Bulgarian South Coast, enjoy the art marathon and fall in love with Sozopol.

Continuing to explore the Coast and going to the North, we arrive in Burgas – the second big city of the Bulgarian Seaside. One of the main attractions there is the Sand Sculpture Festival. It became very famous over the last few years and attracts a lot of tourists and visitors during the summer. I was there last year and enjoyed it a lot. If you are visiting Varna, you can easily do a day-trip to Burgas. It takes only two hours by bus to get there.

Now it’s time to visit Varna.

Varna is the biggest city on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and offers a lot of cultural events to its visitors, especially in the summer. Varna Summer Festival with its rich program of theater plays, operas, ballet, jazz competitions start in June and ends in August with the Varna Summer Jazz Festival. An absolute must-see if you hang out there by this time of the year.

If you are into the cinema and want to see movies from all around the globe, check the International Film Festival “Love is Folly” which runs at the end of August in Varna. Another interesting movie get-together, but this time only for Bulgarian movies, is the Festival “Golden Rose”. This one reunites celebrities from the Bulgarian movie industry.

Bulgarika International Fair of Arts and Crafts takes place during the entire month of August in Varna. You definitely won’t miss it if you go for a walk in the Central Park.

One of the funniest festivals organized in Bulgaria is Sprat fish festival or Фестивал на цацата in Bulgarian. It’s organized in the Rock Capital of Bulgaria – Kavarna in June and basically is about fish eating and a lot of beer drinking.

The summer in Bulgaria is just awesome – nice wheater, summer dolce farniente on the beach, an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, but if you prefer to come in the winter for skiing, don’t miss out the Festival “Surva”. Surva takes place in January in the city of Pernik and is an alternative to the carnivals as the participants wear masks and costumes. The participants are called Kukeri and they wear scary masks and copper belts to frighten the evil forces. The festival started in 1966 and became international over the years. It’s one of the famous ones together with the Rose Festival and the Bagpipe Festival.

The Festival of Roses or the Festivities in the name of the Rose are worldwide known and are held the first week of June in the city of Kazanlak in the Rose Valley. It celebrates the flowers, the beauty, the fertility and continues three days. This is the first festival organized in Bulgaria back in 1903. If you decide to take part in the festivities, don’t miss out the Rose picking and the Oil extraction rituals. The Rose Museum will welcome you if you want to learn more about the Kazanlak rose.

The International Bagpipe Festival in the village of Gela in the Rhodopes mountains takes place in the beginning of August every year and aims to preserve Bulgarian music heritage. The competition officially started in 2002 and a mandatory condition to participate is to play the Kaba gaida. There are no age requirements, the youngest participant so far was 5-years-old and the oldest 85.

Another traditional get-together is the Bulgarian National Costume Festival of Zheravna which is held in the village of Zheravna in August. There you can marvel at the magical colors of the Bulgarian “nosia” from all the regions of the country. For more information check:

In the North of the country, in the village of Smiletz takes place a Watermelon jam Festival called “Маджун”. The Watermelon jam is only produced in this region and the locals reunite to taste the new harvest as they call it.

Another festivity in the Silistra region is the International Children Dance Festival “Tomorrow’s peace begins with the friendships we create today”. This tradition started more than 20 years ago and dancing groups from all around the world are invited to the competition.

I am going to finish this long post with a celebration called July morning and held all around the country especially at the Seaside. It takes place on the night of the 1st of July and you can easily pack for it as the only thing you need is a beach/ bar/camping on the beach, friends, and beers. The idea is to party all night long and to watch the sunrise. Cool, ah?

So which one sounds appealing to you? Here are some pictures to inspire you. My mother visited this year Watermelon jam celebration, so you’ll see some pictures of her hanging out with the locals ):