Whoever you ask about their impressions of the Zheravna Festival of the National Costume, will tell you ”Zheravna is magic”. Zheravna is magic because there is a very strict dress code and a code of conduct everyone must respect. Everybody is dressed in traditional Bulgarian ”nosia” and usage of contemporary objects like plastic bottles and electronic devices are strictly forbidden on the territory of the festival. Everything is authentic – the costumes, the music, the dances, the food and the joy of gathering together.
Good to know
Zheravna Festival takes place in the middle of August each year in the village of Zheravna. The entrance fees are 25 leva for the three days of the festivities. It’s almost mission impossible to find accommodation in the village itself or nearby for the festival period because everything is fully booked in advance. A solution is to sleep in a tent or come by camper – what a lot of people did. We managed to find a hotel in Sliven, located in 50km from Zhearvna.
My personal experience
That was my first time in Zheravna – I wanted to dress up in а traditional Bulgarian nosia. I took a handmade nosia, made by my husband’s grandmother and my nosia represented the Dobrudzha region (the north of Bulgaria). I really enjoyed wearing a nosia all day long and spending a day of digital detox. To those who want to participate in this festival, I would recommend visiting the village of Zheravna as well. Zhearvna is an architectural reserve as it preserves many old Bulgarian houses made out of wood and stone. The village is a fairy tale itself as wherever you walk and pass by, you’ll see objects that remind of the Bulgarian past. I visited the house-museum of the famous Bulgarian writer Yordan Yovkov – a great master of the short novel, translated into 27 languages. I also stopped by an old-fashioned cafe for a Turkish coffee made on the hot sand. It was a travel-in-the-past day, so peaceful and authentic.
Day 1 of Zheravna Festival
The festival starts at around 17.00 and the guests are welcomed by the Orchestra ”100 Kaba Gaidi’‘ – traditional Bag Pipe music. The festival is held in the woods where people sit in the grass. Two scenes were allocated for music and dancing. We stayed only during the first evening – the opening of the festival started at 20.00 o’clock with an official part, folklore dances and songs.
Before visiting Zheravna Festival
I would suggest staying the three days but keep in mind, it might be crowded and access by car might be difficult. Also, it’s not ”on a budget” event, it’s expensive as you need to prepare a nosia in advance (if you don’t have any), book travelling and accommodation, meals and drinks on the venue of the festival are not cheap.
Blue Rocks and Kotel
The second day of the festival, instead of returning back to Zheravna, we decided to head to the ”Blue Rocks’‘, a Natural Park near Sliven. The park is massive and surrounded by ”Blue Rocks”. You can hike for hours and hours and hours and the scenery is just breathtaking. Almost nobody is to be seen around as everybody is queueing in Zheravna. After the ”Blue Rocks”, we decided to pay respect to those who fought for Bulgarian freedom and visited Kotel – one of the key cities where the Rebellion was prepared. The Historical Museum in the city centre is a combination of a museum and a mausoleum. It’s one of the best museums I’ve ever visited as the spirit of the revolt hovers there in between the tombs of those who paid with their lives the freedom of Bulgaria.
Interested by Festivals in Bulgaira? Continue reading here: The ultimate guide to Festivals in Bulgaria
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